This story originally appeared in the Winter 2020 (49.2) issue of POWDER.
The people I ski with are dreamers, revolutionaries, fun hogs.
Sometimes I wonder if they really exist.
They’ve dedicated themselves to something as ridiculous and important as skiing.
They’ve crafted their life around it. It’s a beautiful life.
The people I ski with teach me how to ski, and I’ll never forget those lessons. You should always keep a candy bar in your pocket. You should always wear your helmet.
Some of the people I ski with are kids. They’re not my own kids, and sometimes they’re not very good. They always teach me something. Some of the people I ski with are better than me. They know that. I know that. It’s harmonious, most of the time.
The people I ski with are my favorite people. They’ll sing karaoke and drive through the night in a blizzard to sit with me on the chairlift the next day. You can find them on the skin track early, on the first and last chair on a powder day, and in the bar buying a pitcher of beer to share afterward.
They will be wearing onesies in February and Hawaiian shirts in January when we sneak into the ritzy hotel on Main Street and poach the hot tub.
The people I ski with never say no to glitter or tutus.
They leave empty cans in my car and popcorn in between the seats. I will still offer to drive to the mountain next weekend.
The people I ski with call on my birthday, sometimes. We try to keep in touch, but when we don’t, I think about them all year—their joy, their laugh, that serious conversation they shared on the lift back in April.
The people I ski with moved to Idaho and then Salt Lake City and later Colorado, searching for the place. That place. Their place.
Some of the people I ski with have changed. Skiing really hurt them. I prayed for them to get better. Not all of them did, so I ski for them—the ravens in the sky.
I just met the other people I ski with. A friend of a friend. A long carpool or conversation at the bar. Something clicked and now we still ski together. Or we met by chance, shared a lift and ended up together all day.
Some of the people I ski with are people I’ve never skied with. The ones in the photographs. The ones my friends speak of. The ones in another part of the world.
Sometimes I ski by myself. Or with my favorite music. I laugh and I make all the decisions and get to be whatever version of myself I feel like being. I can ski fast or slow or stop among those big trees and take it all in.
The people I ski with are my soulmates. I have lived past lives with them, if you believe in that sort of thing. I would go to the ends of the Earth for them, or at least let them take the first run, and they would do the same.
I trust them.
Caitlin Kelly is a writer and ski patroller based in the Adirondacks. If you sit too close to her on the chairlift, you may get glitter on your skis.