In 1984, I had made the 845-mile drive from Hermosa Beach, Calif., to do my annual film show and start filming my next movie at Sun Valley, Idaho, during the Christmas holidays.
The snow was hard-packed granular because there were a lot of skiers and and not a lot of snow. After lunch in the warming hut at the top of Baldy, I started drawing cartoons for some of the kids.
Before long there were four or five kids standing in line for their ski cartoons when a pretty dark-haired lady came over and said, “I’m sorry if my son is bothering you.”
I replied: “He’s fine and by the way I’ve met you before. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I had breakfast with you and I hope your ex-husband seven or eight years ago in the Edgewater Inn in Seattle. After breakfast you gave me a business card that had blue ink on it. I can’t remember what your card said but it had blue ink on it. Is that true?”
And she said, “Yes.”
We chatted briefly and I asked her, “Could I have your phone number?”
While she was writing it down, I asked her, “Can I ski down with you?” She very graciously waited for me at the bottom of Warm Springs where I arrived about two minutes after she got there.
We chatted a little bit and she walked away. When I looked at the card she had written her phone number on, it was a Seattle phone number. Where do you look for a beautiful, single lady in the gigantic Christmas crowd at Sun Valley?
The next morning, I had to work on a script and didn’t get over to Warm Springs until about 11:15 and somehow found her in the singles lift line. She had already made a half-dozen runs on Warm Springs and we rode up together for the first time. I invited her to join me for a casual lunch after a few runs. Later on the chairlift, I dug out a handful of trail mix from one of the pockets of a badly worn out White Stag vest. It still had enough feathers left in it to keep me warm. I carefully picked out a few small, lonely feathers from the trail mix. I sure enjoyed my first lunch with Laurie.
It didn’t take me more than a half- dozen lift rides to figure out that we were definitely “G.U.” (geographically undesirable) as any future was concerned. She lived in Seattle, had a ski school with 100 instructors and owned a ski shop with about 30 employees. I still owned my film production company in Hermosa Beach, Calif., which is a two-hour flight, or a two-day drive away.
That night I was showing my ski movie in the Opera House and I invited Laurie, her son Colin and their friends to the film. I didn’t know that she was chaperoning 10 kids from her ski school near Seattle, whose parents would be arriving in a couple of days.
I had to leave three days later for Los Angles, but not after trying as hard as I could to keep up with her on a pair of skis. Twenty-six years later I still can’t keep up with her on skis. But that’s OK, because not very many other people can either.
Three years later, I managed to talk her into marrying me after a week or so of wearing out my body while windsurfing together in Maui. Twenty-two years ago we were married in our living room at new our home in Vail and I still couldn’t keep up with her on my skis. But that is OK with me, because she still always waits for me at the bottom of the chairlift.
Here we are, many years later in our home at the Yellowstone Club in Montana. Right now it is in shambles from a $200,000 frozen pipe flood. Every morning, we climb over the debris of reconstruction as we suit up and walk out in the snow in front of our house and climb into our skis just as we have for all of these years. The freedom that our skis give us, makes watching them tear out and rebuild the flood damage better than staying on our island home north of Seattle and getting the construction updates over the phone. As Laurie and I always say, “This too shall pass.”
But, as the chairs glide silently in front of my office window, I find the lure of yet another day of making turns is just what my brain and body need right now.
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