So, I recognize that 23 isn't exactly ripe old age, but I have to admit that I think I have had my first brush with getting old-er. I haven't skied since I was...(Please pause with me for some mental math: The last time I skied, I was an 8th-grader, which means I was...) 13, which means it has been an entire decade since I hit the slopes! I really enjoyed skiing the last time I did it; I had worked my way up to blacks and I really liked the tree trails and any small jumps on the slopes. As a result, skiing has always held a very warm spot in my heart. I have been talking about how much I "love it", even as the rust was quietly accumulating on my skills. I think my first day experience (In Tignes, France) made me realize that I might have developed some fancifiul memories of skiing. I don't remember it being difficult, I never remember being sore (or tired for that matter), and I only have a vague awareness of being cold. In summary, my skiing experience resembled a video game more than real life. At least that is what I finally realized.
My boots are bruising my shins. Literally. Someone told me that the boots have gotten tighter over the course of the past decade; apparently, this is motived by either performance or safety. The idea that it could be both is questionalbe to me. For me, I am convinced that increased "performance" (speed, maneuvering, etc) is inversely related to safety of any form. I think that my mom would be glad to know that I have gotten more cautious in my ripe old age. While I use to laugh at the idea of making her uncomfortable with my excessive risk taking, the idea isn't as appealing. Or maybe I haven't changed at all, and it is just comparisons to my mountaineering ski partner (literally, she climbs mountains) that make me seem like a "safety-first" skier. Or maybe, it is the realization that if I go to the hospital, no one will be hear to arrange all of the details, including how I will get back to the UK (or how in the world you coordinate insurance payments between the NHS, my traveller's insurance and whatever they have here in the EU...). Or maybe it is all three.
Once I got over the bruising and on to the skiing, it only took about five minutes for th pain to move from my shins to my hip flexors and quads. I was talking to one of the "novices" on the bus (you know, the ones who haven't EVER skied, compared to those of us who wkied for three consecutive winters in the 90s), who was concerned that he would need to go easy on the first few days or else he would get really sore. I assured him that he would be fine; after all, the last time I skied (when I was a pre-teen) I never got sore. Perhaps, I should have done some basic math before I started offering sage advice.
In other news, I am always on the lookout for native experiences, so I have been trying t find things that are uniquely French. Here is what I have come up with so far. For starters, I am looking forward to the incredible customer service of the UK after spending a bit of time in this country. At one convenience store, they set a bag on top of my purchases and let me bag my own items. And I think the clerk was put out to have to provide the bag.
Also, showers here embody my idea of the stereotypical European experience. There is a shower head, but no shower curtain and the shower head is hand held. So you basically just stand in the bathtub and try not to spray water all over the bathroom. In other news, if you ever stay in a Chalet in the Alps, bring a towel. They are not provided. Fortunately, I am MacGyver, so I have not been deterred by the fact that I didn't bring a towel. I just dry off with the long-sleeved shirt that I wore that day. It is really quite the system.