These six essays originally appeared as the intros to the six issues of our 45th volume. Our first issue of volume 46 prints soon. To receive future intros in their original print, sign up here.
PHOTO: Mark Fisher
VI: The Good Life
The temperatures warmed. The season was ending. As I sat around drinking coffee with the crew, I felt a mixture of pride, contentment, and relief—for all the snow we skied, the places we'd been, the lines we conquered, the laughable amount of partying we did—and, frankly, gratitude we all came out the other side unscathed.
How can one person be so lucky? Be exposed to so much love and beauty in one lifetime? Let alone one ski season. One thing I knew: to be thankful. To cherish these fleeting days and do everything in my power to hold on to them for as long as I possibly could.
In the dimly lit café that morning, our season of working and skiing together coming to a close, my ski buddies all vowed to get back together the following winter. Nobody said anything then, but we all knew it was a lie. We'd be back, sure, but as old men on an annual trip together, with a far less impressive appetite for beer and chronic heartburn.
Everybody in the group will always ski, and ski well, but it would never be the same as it was that morning. The hierarchy of their lives would shift. They would soon become other things first. Doctors and lawyers and engineers and fathers. The skiing we would do together would never look the same. We would never ski—or live—so brazenly again.
That is probably a good thing. But I plan to hold out, though not without my doubts. As my friends' lives evolve to include homes and babies, I've wondered if I'm missing something. For now, I've avoided the choice, and I dismiss the binary narrative between skiing and stability, stubbornly and selfishly believing that I don't have to choose between the things I love.
But enough of the self-reflection. We finished our coffees and buckled our boots. It was the last day of the season. And we still had some skiing to do, though skiing is a pretty loose term here. It was more performance art—a circus on skis.
And my god if we weren't the biggest bunch of freaks anyone on that mountain had ever seen. A parade of maniacs on skis overflowing with energy. To be within that orb was to feel true freedom. We all skied completely recklessly, a madhouse of 20 skiers wearing god-knows-what trying to ski faster than everybody else, howling and jumping and snake-skiing and generally losing our minds.
One day I might grow out of this, but it was not that day.