The world is divided into two types of people: those who are relieved to see the car at the end of the three-hour ski trip and those who are disappointed. Generally, it is not recommended that the two marry, but sometimes it works out if the former believes herself to be the latter.
I went cross-country skiing for the first time today with Aaron, who has been skiing all season and is pretty much good at everything except keeping his truck clean. Clara was watched by the nicest, most perfect family ever, and so it was with great care that we enjoyed what people have come to refer to as “date night,” if we can allow the term “night” to include the hours between 10:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Only those on their way to prom or the altar feel what those on their way to date night feel: the pressure to keep the conversation lively, the weight of bought time, the itch of fancy, in this case long, undergarments. Date night around here is honestly not that uncomfortable, but we did almost talk about bikes. On the way out, Aaron innocently suggests I look at bikes while he rents a second set of skis. I say, “But we can’t afford bikes.” Aaron slips, “If they’re cheap?” I grab the arm rest, “It’ll cost almost a thousand dollars for two bikes.” Aaron: “I thought you might like to window shop.” I window shop for expensive, homeopathic tea leaves and faded but trendy sweaters on consignment, not bikes, but we’re both feeling it: please don’t let date night be about bikes!
And, it wasn’t, of course, because after years of practice, we’ve learned how 1) to amp up our respective roles in the conversation to the point of incredulity (Sherry: I bet you would leave me for an 85 year-old-woman if she provided you blank checks made out to REI, and it makes me think differently of you. Aaron: Like in a bad way?), 2) to move seamlessly onto more harmless topics, like the difference between cross-country and skate skiing, or 3) to preoccupy at least one of us with a difficult, unintuitive task, such as keeping one’s feet parallel.
Even though I forgot about variations in terrain and when I fell on my left wrist I felt it in my right hip, the powder was fresh and forgiving and the post-ski trip cinnamon rolls, coffee, and indoor spaces were warm, artificially scented, and inviting.