An old man slides up to the lift terminal and at the last second, scores the empty space on your chairlift, canceling your alone time. The music in your headphones is so loud you don’t hear him say hello. Hit pause, a wave of silence, and he says hello again. He’s doing fantastic, thank you very much. How are you? “Fantastic.” He smiles and says he’s been skiing this hill every day of every winter for the last 30 years, but today sure is beautiful, isn’t it. He offers you a slice of cheese. He kind of smells like cheese. You notice his ski sweater. It’s a classic. Where’d he get that? He found it under the Christmas tree too long ago to remember. He tells you he’s got an A-frame in the valley, and his wife is back home baking cookies. You remember the soggy pb&j in your pocket. The top lift shack comes into view. You slide down the ramp. The liftie shouts his name and waves hello. He skis away and leaves you, alone, with your music blasting in your headphones, hoping that someday you’ll be doing it as good as that guy. —Julie Brown

1. You have a job, and you still ski every day.

2. Style: you didn't even realize you had it.

3. Deep, weathered wrinkles: signs of a lot of smiling.

4. Everyone wants to ski with you, even though you don't smell very good.

5. Your one-piece has three zippers and it's not just for gaper day.

6. You frequently find yourself on last chair. Rarely on first.

7. Even the parking lot attendant knows your name.

8. Sometimes you say, 'Fuck it,' and leave your belt unbuckled.

PHOTO: Ryan Creary. This story originally published in the February 2017 issue of POWDER (45.6). Subscribe to The Skier’s Magazine for $14.97.