Saturday, March 10, 2012
My four-hour train ride to St. Moritz took seven, piling off the (express?) train to meet my good friend Phil, I did not have to ask where we going first. Two southern ski bums meet in the mountains to do what they do best- drink beer. Location- Roo Bar. Chill-axin’ with Prada wearing snow bums, one pint quickly turns to two, and two to four. I’m sitting at a table with Australians, Swiss, Dutch, Danish, and English, ranging ages twenty-two to fifty two. I’m not sure if it’s the beer, the snow, or the high altitude, but no matter which mountain I’m on in the world, people always seem in a good mood. I wonder, does high altitude make us high?
A guy rolls by in a wheel chair. With his bottom half intensely bandaged, he’s got two broken legs and hospital IV’s hooked into his arm. He’s sipping pints as cords tangle between his glass and fleece sweatshirt. This is drinking at its finest.
I love mountain life. Perhaps I’ll move to one this year?
I wake Phil at 7 in the morning, explaining my obsession with being first on the lift.
“It won’t make a difference, Lauren. You won’t be able to see anything with these conditions, anyway”
Unconvinced, I nag to get myself to the mountain as it’s opening. I snowboard frequently in America. Harsh conditions are a synch. I think. Up the gondola I go at 8am, realizing three things. 1.) I don’t know this mountain 2.) I don’t know this mountains language and 3.) NO ONE is out here.
I exit the gondola and reach my first lift. I’m the only rider in sight. No one is even working the thing, the lift gate opens and closes automatically, and I choose when to enter. This doesn’t feel like Breckenridge. Where are all the colorful people? On the lift I see only white, and it’s so white I cannot pinpoint where the mountain starts and where the sky begins. Did I take a gondola to PLUTO?
I ride down the run trying to enjoy, but I keep falling. I’m scared because I don’t know where I am, I can’t see, and I don’t know the mountain. Cliffs could be anywhere. I continue up and down the same lift trying to enjoy myself- It’s not working. I’m not comfortable alone, with conditions so horrible I can hardly see my hand in front of my face. This St. Moritz ski pass cost a freaking fortune, but I have to be smart.
Frustrated, I stop for a cappuccino. I want it to be a happy snowboarding day. I wanted (insert douchey snowboarder accent here) fresh powwwww. I didn’t want to suck.
The woman hands me my cappuccino as I sit alone and attempt positive thinking. I look down at my cup, and the coco on top is in shape of a sun. I smile.
Here’s a little sunshine to your cold and snowy morning I hear the universe say, as she slides my happy cup across the counter.
I drink the cup of sunshine and mediate on good things.
Focus on this moment.
Events do not control your happiness, you do.
I convince myself I will enjoy this day on the mountain, even if I stay inside drinking coffee for half of it. I can’t control the weather or the snow conditions, I can only control my thinking. Looking around, I begin to notice more people coming up the gondola. I decide to give the mountain another try, and ask an instructor the best place to go in my circumstance.
Twenty minutes later I’m in a new area, trying to remember if the instructor told me to go left or right.
I see two groups of people I can ask for directions- snowboarding teens or a large group of guys.
I choose the second.
“Hey! Do you guys speak English?”
There are seven of them, snowboarders and skiers. They have long hair and stylish riding gear- typical, talented snow bums.
“Yeah yeah, Lady! What’s goin’ on?” In perfect English. Yessssss.
“Okay, which is the easiest way to get down? Left or Right?”
“Well left is easier.” They say. “But the right is AWWWEEESOOOMMEEE.”
I laugh and ask where they are from. They are from Amsterdam. I give the common head nod and grin everyone gives when you talk about Amsterdam, and they joke with me about country music and line dancing.
“What are your names?” I ask. “Uhhh…just call us Dutchies.” They say.
“Ha! Works for me! I’m horrible with names.”
I snowboard down the run with my new Dutchie friends, realizing they are not as professional as I originally thought. One even has a rental board.......psh.
Yet, these people are a hoot. Singing country songs and throwing snowballs, we go to areas of the mountain and ride through powder up to my knees. They give me twix bars and tell me it’s laced with weed (It’s not).
Talking with these people in the beginning, I dove a number of stereotypes. Immediately assuming they were weed smoking, party-going, snowboarders from Amsterdam, I proudly tell them I work a nightclub in Italy getting paid to get drunk and socialize. They will think this is cool. I think to myself.
“So Lauren, do you do drugs?” They ask.
“No, I don’t do drugs. I’m not going to lie, I’ve smoked the occasional joint, hit the occasional bong. This, however, is not a frequent activity of mine.”
I shoot the question back at them, wondering how I am going to reject the Amsterdam nugget they are about to offer me from their coat pocket.
“No, I don’t do drugs.” The dude with long red hair says proudly, “I love Jesus.”
I’m caught off guard. I have never heard anyone (especially anyone from Amsterdam) say, I don’t do drugs because I love Jesus. As the day continues, however, I realize how much they really did love Jesus. A Christian group from the Netherlands, they came to St. Moritz with sixty people from their church. Three of these guys once lived in America to work for a Christian organization. They asked me questions about abortion, Obama, gay marriage (great snowboarding conversation, right?), but we spoke about these issues openly, and I tried to give my honest (more liberal) opinion without fear of what they would say. They never judged me.
These people only helped me. There I was, little Lauren lost on the mountain, drinking a cappuccino praying and meditating that something good would happen. Next thing I know, God has sent his Christian snowboarding angels from Amsterdam to guide my way in St. Moritz. Because this is what these people did, they guided me all day, leading me through the snowy conditions like a little sister.
This is what religion should be about- helping people and being friendly. I feel people get so wrapped in which religion is right or wrong, they forget God just wants us to love each other, no matter what. God doesn’t judge anyone. None have the right to say which religion is right or which is wrong. None of us on Earth know. Just believe in something, anything- a tree for all I care. And let’s just be nice to our neighbors, Capito?
The day ended in a little hut on the mountain, over beer and coca cola, I spoke with them about my life. The day before my 23rd birthday, I don’t really know what I want or where I am going. My mind changes everyday from volunteering in Africa to teaching in Asia to working in New York City. As thirty-something's, the Dutchies tell me I have time to figure it out, and I should just keep smiling. Right now I’m traveling, loving the new people I meet, and trying my best to learn a little something everywhere I go. I think this lifestyle is working...but who actually knows?