A ski lift ride with a stranger often can be quite interesting. There is something about the isolation of two strangers on the chair that can spark exchanges that wouldn't happen in other circumstances. I must confess I enjoy drawing people out with leading questions. Often this leads into confessional statements that make me feel like a priest or a therapist. Most of the time I am leading the conversation but occasionally my companion will inquire about me.
Because many of my geezer companions were not in attendance today, I had many solo rides and some new companions who had interesting stories to tell. Here are three of them that speak to therapy sessions on the lift.
My first encounter was with a 52 year old gentleman that had grown up in Canada. In our conversation about skiing we drifted off into family matters. He revealed that he was a widower of seven years and was raising two youngsters after the untimely car crash death of his wife. He confessed that he was unlikely to ever get married again. This comment came after he heard a bit of my story of marrying a second time and even having a second family in my senior years. My thought is that maybe he will reconsider his reluctance to marry again after hearing of my 40 years of blessed reprieve.
My second encounter was with a tall blonde lady of undetermined age with a massive head of hair. No helmet but I didn't comment on that! I'm a bit adamant that helmets are essential for skiers! She revealed that she was from Wisconsin and had moved to a friends place in the area when covid struck in 2019. She now plans to return to Wisconsin for a reason that I didn't hear. I have visited Wisconsin so I asked her what she thought of upstate New York. Her's was a positive response and we mutually agreed both our areas have a lot to offer. Somehow we drifted off to discussing of our heritage. I had asked whether she might be Scandinavian. Turns out she had a German, Irish, Czech lineage. I shared with her that we had some things in common since I have a German, Irish and Dutch lineage. I sensed there was some nostalgia about her return to Wisconsin.
My third encounter was with a lady from our area who was a retired surgical nurse. She opened our conversation with the comment that she was having trouble finding time to ski due to her impending move to Virginia Beach. I never determined whether her spouse had died or there was a divorce, but it seems she was on her own with coping with a transition to a new life, She had angst about leaving ski country and an established networks to be with children and grandchildren in a new location. Her son has bought a house for her in Virginia Beach so she is well cared for physically but still there is the emotional adjustment. As we left the lift I wished her a good run and said that I was sure she would succeed in her transition.
I would comment that this piece strays a bit from the skiing focus per se. However skiing is more that the physical endeavor. There are the other dimensions of social and cultural interactions. Actually I enjoy my role as counselor!