As October of 2015 came to a close, there was a shift in the nature of the parasitism between Mountain Man and I. We’d completed our metamorphosis by the end of the month, but as we entered November, a well-obscured trait in my "twin's" personality began to reveal itself. It was a hobby, a lifestyle, that I had little experience with, and it would soon be responsible for extreme tension between us that would last years beyond the termination of our relationship, at least for me.
Having grown up in the Bay Area, where down parkas and beanies are more of a fashion statement than a necessity, I had all but forgotten about the existence of seasons. But Mountain Man was from the mountains, where the four seasons are as distinct as they appear in Google Images. As a result, he had something that I’d never considered: seasonal hobbies.
Mountain Man was obsessed with skiing. This hadn’t been obvious during the Summer and Fall, even though he’d convinced me to buy a season pass for the big Tahoe resorts at the end of October. If I’d been more cognizant of my dwindling independence, perhaps I’d have thought a little harder about getting that ski pass, but unfortunately, I was all but oblivious to the loss of myself. I’d simply gotten the ski pass because he’d gotten the ski pass.
And then November was upon us, and Mountain Man started getting all giddy about the first day that the Tahoe resorts opened—November 14, or, “Opening Day,” as the skiers call it. Mountain Man asked me if I would be joining him on Opening Day, and of course, I’d answered affirmatively. But I didn't know what I was agreeing to. I didn't care, though—I was still in Manson-Girl Mode at that point. I was like Trashcan Man from The Stand—"My life for you!" (At least he didn't ask me to kill anybody.)
To ring in the start of the 2015-2016 season, Mountain Man insisted that we watch a ski movie every night until Opening Day. That's when I felt the first flicker of unease—I hadn't even known that there was such a thing as a "ski movie." I was afraid to let my naivete be known, though, so I just played along. I learned quickly that Mountain Man's "ski movies" are smartly-edited footage of famous skiers hopping out of helicopters and jumping over stuff and going upside down in slo-mo while cool space-music plays in the background. I was over it after the first one, but Mountain Man was just getting started. He actually started crying when we finished the first one. Baffled, but still afraid to say a word, I silently patted his head while he cried into my shoulder. Needless to say, this set my unease creeping up to a state of discomfort.
It became a thing: Mountain Man would cry after every ski movie. Sometimes, his sobs would be accompanied by some blubbery monologue about the beauty of skiing and mountains and snow. It was during these that bits of new information began to slip out. Apparently, he had worked as a ski instructor, a lifty, and a ski patroller during different ski seasons in different parts of the U.S. He used fancy terms like "yard sale" and "sendy" as if I should know what they meant without Googling them. He kept talking about terrain parks, heliskiing, cliffs, and double-blacks. That’s when I finally realized the severity of my situation.
Basically, he was a pro-skier. I hadn’t skied since I was ten or eleven years old, and yet, I’d smiled and nodded along while he gushed about jumping over trees in knee-deep pow. I’d pretended so hard that I’d convinced myself that no matter what happened it would all be fine, since we had each other and we were basically the same person.
But nothing would be fine. How could it be fine? I’d agreed to ski with a pro-skier who thought I was on his level.
I was fucked.