A decade ago, when I moved to a ski town, I was hoping for more than just great skiing. My life in Los Angeles was like a pendulum that had swung too far in one direction. It had too much asphalt and too much noise. Too many crowds and too few trees. And there were way too many people focused on things that mattered little to me, like wearing the latest fashion-magazine styles or socializing with the rich and famous.
A mountain town, I thought, would be more in line with my values. Plus I had that crazy ski itch – the one that no number of ski weekends can scratch.
I never imagined I would find myself longing for city life. But there I was last autumn in Whistler, walking with my ski-town husband and my ski-town dog, going out to the same ski-town place for dinner. Everything I hoped to find by moving to a mountain town I had found – serenity, a more grounded life, friends who liked to ski as much as I did, even a non-neurotic mountain-guy spouse. And I had skied well over 500 days since I made the move.
But I was over it. I found myself craving a city's rich diversities. I hungered for obscure movies, new restaurants, and a community with a wider array of passions. I even missed wearing the latest styles and socializing with the rich and famous. My life's pendulum had now swung too far in the opposite direction.
In my earlier incarnation, I worked in the entertainment industry, logged months in my car in West L.A., dated neurotic Hollywood guys and dreamed about life in a ski town. While sitting in gridlock or dining among Hollywood's elite at Morton's, I found myself aware of an alternate reality. In Squaw or Mammoth, in Jackson or Telluride, someone was spending another day on the slopes.
It gnawed at me. And it was only a matter of choice: Did I want the bang of trash trucks to wake me or the thud of avalanche-control bombs? Of course, big choices come with big costs. Every time we embrace one thing, we turn our backs on something else.
So there I was, last year, walking with my ski-town husband and my ski-town dog, going out to the same ski-town place for dinner. It happened to be my husband's birthday, but it also happened to be our dog Brodie's last night of life. Brodie was 15 and barely holding on. He had reached the point, we both realized, at which enough was enough.
We arrived for dinner and asked to sit outside. And could the dog sit near us? Marty, our favorite waiter, raised one eyebrow and asked what was up. We told him. Marty cordoned off a section of the patio for us. Brodie lay next to our table, chin in paws, giving an occasional sigh.
About halfway through dinner, Marty and the chef came out of the kitchen, bearing a platter of prime rib. They placed it on the ground in front of our dog. Brodie looked up at my husband, then at me, his chin so low to the ground that he could barely hold it up, his dull eyes suddenly bright. Then he relished every bite. When it was gone, he looked back up at the two of us and grinned.
When we got up to leave, the restaurant refused to present us with a bill. Marty patted Brodie's head then patted each of us on the shoulder and said, "This one's on us."
Like I said, big choices come with big costs – but that's the easy part to predict. It's much harder to foresee the unexpected riches that accompany the choices we make. I still long for urban culture and new places to eat, but I'm coming back around to ski-town life. And, of course, there may be another 500 days of skiing.