Aspen Princess: Getting older is (literally) a pain
June 15, 2017
I get it that being woken up in the middle of the night by a full moon blazing through the window like a spotlight from the gods isn't the worst problem to have. But having leg cramps that keep you from going back to sleep kind of is.
As I begin to teeter onto the downward slope of my fourth decade, my body is no longer the spry, fast-healing, well-oiled machine it once was. It's now more like a used German car with over 75,000 miles: If it's not one thing, it's another.
So just before the start of the ski season, I bought a new board. "Don't forget to de-tune the board before you take it out," the guy at the snowboard shop had said.
That did cross my mind the on my first day out when I took the new board out for a test run. A stupid idea for a lot of reasons, but I was all fired up. I couldn't wait for my photo op as I entered the gondola maze with my 10-month-old strapped to my chest like some kind of war medal or fashion accessory, depending on how you look at it. Pink goggles, pink pants, fur pom-pom hat, my favorite Special Blend snowboard jacket with the baseball-style sleeves and striped elastic waist band, beautiful baby boy and brand new Ride OMG snowboard that says "Not your gurl" in big purple letters on a pink base.
When I bought the board, the guy asked me, "Are you OK with graphics?"
I was more than OK with the big, colorful cherries on the top sheet and what I assumed was a cool, girl power message on the base. Had I missed the meaning? Was it some kind of virgin thing, like a battle cry for teens who take a vow of abstinence? I guess I'll never know.
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"Did you ever de-tune it?" Ryan asked as we rode the gondola up the mountain.
"Nah, it'll be fine," I said with a shrug.
So there I was, feeling like the coolest new mom because even though I'm pushing 50 and will probably go straight from childbirth into menopause, I'm still shredding. Who cares if I'll be a senior citizen when my kid graduates high school? I can still rip, yo. As I carved my way down the groomed slopes, I fantasized about growing my hair long and wearing long braids that would flap in the wind as my little boy chased me down the mountain on his board. Of course he'll choose snowboarding over skiing, right?
Lost in thought, I arched a big uphill toe-side turn on that one spot just above Chair 3 where there's an apron that's perfect for slashing cutbacks and, wham! I was face-down in the snow, spread eagle. It felt like both my arms had been ripped out of their sockets.
Six months later, my shoulder is finally getting better. I stuck my handstand in yoga last week after months of trying. Almost 50 and I can still do a handstand, bitches!
So there I am, lying in savasana dreaming about the photos I'd post of me doing my handstand in a beautiful setting with my tow-headed toddler hugging my middle like a tree trunk. I'd be smiling and serene, like standing on my hands is something I can do all the livelong day, the babe's angelic, flawless little face lit up by the sun. Then, out of nowhere, my right leg cramps up.
My right leg cramps up a lot, often waking me several times in the night. It hurts to straighten and it hurts to bend, and the pain radiates deep into my pelvis and lower back.
I agree, maybe it isn't a good idea to hike up the endless steep pitches of the Arbaney Kittle trail with 30 pounds of babe on my back. It's just that this time with my little baby won't last forever and it makes us both so happy. I suppose I could do the stuff moms do, take him to the park and the pool and the library, but there's nothing better than hearing his happy babble and song as we ascend the mountain. Our spirits take flight and we're together in a way that feels miraculous somehow. I feel that with every step, the mountains are fused into his soul.
Yes, of course I went to the chiropractor and the massage therapist. Yes, I've done pigeon pose for so long it took three people to get me out of it. I tried heat followed by cold followed by heat. I took enough Vitamin I (ibuprofen, hello) to kill a small child.
I can touch my toes, I can do full splits on both sides, I can press my chest flat to the floor in a straddle, and I can do a pretty back-bend. Yet somehow, I am still so tight that my leg seizes up on a regular basis.
This has been going on for weeks now.
With every dollar I spend that doesn't really seem to help, I keep spending more. I think of a fitness trainer I once knew who said, "You get as much out of your body that you put into it, just like a car."
I know this is only the beginning. I overhear the old timers talking about their various hip and knee and shoulder replacements, but at least they're still going.
This mountain lifestyle might be hard on our bodies, but I imagine a sedentary lifestyle would be much worse. If I'm going to keep up with my young child as he grows, then I'll always figure out a way to keep going, to push through the pain. It might take an army of wellness professionals and a bulk size bottle of Advil, but no matter what injury I have to overcome next, it's all uphill from here.
The Princess wants to wish everyone a happy Food & Wine weekend. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.