Say Hello Say Goodbye

It's a vile rainy, chill Wednesday afternoon in early May - so very different from this time last year where we were enjoying endless hot sunny days and thought we'd all died and gone to Heaven. What a difference 365 days make! I have nothing better to do than sort out piles of papers, move endless 'stuff' from one place to another around the house, trying to work out what to chuck and what to save, and doing the laundry and cleaning.

So instead I have decided to sit down and write this, sparked by 'Don't Get Me Wrong' by the Pretenders playing on the radio. It instantly took me back to the top of a mountain in Courchevel in the French Alps in 1987. I was in the middle of my season as a rep for a ski tour operator in Courchevel 1650. The sun was blazing out of a bright blue sky, the snow was glistening white and deep as far as the eye could see and Chrissie Hynde was pumping out 'Don't get me wrong' from a massive speaker at the top of this confluence of chairlifts. Basically, whether you're 18, 23 or 55, life doesn't get better than this (to coin a phrase, not). I was on a high at many levels: physically, mentally and emotionally - and dare I say, spiritually too. How can you not feel closer to the big 'Out There' when standing at 3000m with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, an endless blue sky and that white snow under your feet? Talk about Enlightenment!

Physically, I was young, I was fit and strong and in my element when in the mountains and on a ski slope. Skiing is my first love and I've done it since the age of 7. That's getting on to be quite a lot of years now. I never tire of it, and never will. I just dread the day when I physically can't do it any more. And sure as eggs is eggs that day is coming down the line.

Mentally, I was completely clear that I'd made the right decision to come out and do a season in the Alps. All my university mates had fallen like lemmings into the abyss of the City of London. Banking, law, accounting, banking, law, accounting. A few went rogue and went into engineering or industry, but not many. And if they weren't doing that, they were wallowing in the 80s madness of the advertising and music industries. Bars and clubs in the basement of the office, long drunken lunches - it was a hedonistic time, for sure.

Emotionally, I was ridiculously, simply, happy. I felt good that I'd followed my heart not my head. That I'd been true to myself. I had no desire to go and work in the city when I could be on the top of this mountain. And a ski season generates a heady, hedonistic experience all of its own. For anyone who's been on a ski holiday with their mates, this is it with knobs and turbo-drive on. So many 'young guns' just having a wild, free time. The world their oyster. Endless possibilities lying ahead.

So I stood there and savoured the moment, before heading off down a steep slope at full tilt with Chrissie Hynde still ringing in my ears, carefree and excited by the very idea of all the people I still had to meet in the world, let alone the ones in the bar at the bottom of that ski slope, some of whom are still very much in my life, some of whom split off from my own path like the diffracted light she sings about. Looking at the words of this classic Pretenders anthem, I realise they embody all the energy and emotion that I felt at that moment, perfectly capturing a minute in the story of my life on Planet Earth.

Don't get me wrong
If you say hello and I take a ride 
Upon a sea where the mystic moon 
Is playing havoc with the tide

Don't get me wrong
If I split like light diffracted
I'm only off to wander
Across a moonlit mile

Once in a while
Two people meet
Seemingly for no reason
They just pass on the street
Suddenly, thunderstorms everywhere
Who can explain the thunder and rain?
But there's something in the air.

As my own daughter recently returned from her own amazing ski season in the French Alps - fuller, rounder, maturer (physically, mentally and emotionally) - I drank in her experiences as if they were mine again. I felt sad that it was over for her, and all the goodbyes she'd had to say. But next week she's off on new adventures to lands of sun, sea, sand and exoticism in Thailand and Vietnam travelling both with some of her old friends and some of the new. There's been 'something in the air' today for sure as she and I watched the rain come down and hung in limbo between her recent homecoming and her imminent departure; trying to make plans for the last few days before the packing of the rucksack and the drive to the airport. The mystic moon is waxing, the tides are rising and my girl will soon be wandering across many a moonlit mile once more.


Jayne said…
Thank you for triggering my own trip down memory lane:-)
In my case it was a season in the Alps in 1989 and "Ride on time", Black Box.
Carah Boden said…
Ah yes, I remember that one so well too Jayne! Which resort were you in?
Glad I was able to take you back to special times :-).
Jayne said…
La Plagne.
It was a good winter, and we've been back a couple of times since as tourists, which was 'different'.

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