I can’t believe I am actually going to write about skiing.
Three separate events set me off on this topic. First, my blog friend wrote about her emigration to Germany 20 years ago and wondered how far her assimilation of and into that culture had gone. Second, I was making arrangements for our upcoming trip our annual ski weekend at my aunt’s house in Tyrol. And third, my daughter just arrived home from her ski week with her school class. It is an important tradition in this country because it generates memories in the vast majority of the citizens which they can later share, compare, laugh about, lie about, bond over . . .
I am a flatlander and I stand by that.
But I married a citizen of this country and, although I didn’t realize it at the time, that meant inviting skiing into my life for better or worse, in sickness and health, till death do us part. It is simply a part of the deal. In fact, I believe ”will learn to ski“ is one of the points in the “Integration Contract” that new immigrants have to sign when they move to this country. It comes right after “will not wear headscarf“.
In the beginnings of our romance, I valiantly agreed to go skiing. I was eager! It was all so new and an important intercultural experience to boot! I was pretty successful too – in those first four or five trips, I only landed in the hospital twice.
Thereafter the frequency of my skiing outings slowly decreased. I remember telling people years ago: “I go skiing once every five years to keep my marriage happy.” Those five year intervals gradually increased in length with one thing or another preventing me from going along. Finally, I had managed to go 11 straight years without once having to ski. But in the meantime, I had started my family.
By the time my daughters were two years old, my husband decided it was high time to strap them onto two boards and send them careening down the side of a mountain. By the age of five and seven, they had developed enough verbal ability to successfully pressure me into joining them. On one of our annual trips to Tyrol, I finally caved and went along.
I strapped on all the heavy and awkward equipment and waddled toward that rope thing with those metal hangers that look suspiciously like meat hooks in a slaughterhouse. I let one skewer me and schlep me up to the top of the bunny hill, where I detached myself and fell down. I got up, slid a couple meters and fell down. I got up, made one or two careful curves, and managed to come to a non-horizontal stop. I looked down the hill and saw my five year old waiting for me at the bottom. This repeated itself for two hours.
That was my last skiing experience. Funnily enough, since then I have gotten no pressure whatsoever to come along. In fact, everyone is really understanding when I say I might just stay home.