Let your phone bat­tery freeze and em­brace the free­dom of a glo­ri­ously dis­con­nected ski day.


SKI - - CONTENTS - By Heather Hans­man Heather Hans­man is a free­lance writer liv­ing in Seat­tle. She still hasn’t up­graded her phone.

It’s my own fault be­cause I’m a cheapskate, and I’m be­com­ing more of a Lud­dite as I get older, but my how­ever-many-gen­er­a­tions-old iPhone dies the sec­ond it gets cold th­ese days. That means most of the time I go ski­ing I’m to­tally dis­con­nected. I can shove it in my boobs to keep it warm for emer­gen­cies (stay tuned for my next in­ven­tion: brock­ets!), but for most of last win­ter, ev­ery time I went to the moun­tains I went dark. And after my first round of “did you get my text mes­sage” para­noia and how-is-any­one-go­ing-to-find-me FOMO freak out, it was great.

As a teenager, I fell in love with ski­ing be­cause I liked the way it made me feel reck­less and con­nected at the same time. I spent week­ends try­ing to keep up with the kids I wanted to be­friend or be like, high on some kind of hor­monal pubescent cock­tail of power and speed as I blun­dered down the blue ice bumps of Cas­tle Rock, cross­ing my tips.

We didn’t have phones back then and that was part of the chase. You had to be in it, on your toes and ready to jump if you didn’t want to lose the crew. No one was go­ing to wait for you, and you never knew which way the pack would head, so you had to stay close and pay at­ten­tion. On the chair we sang along to Salt-N-Pepa, played “Would You Rather?” and hollered at the skiers zip­per-lin­ing bumps below us. Some­times you could sneak a nervy slow dou­ble ride with an older boy, pray­ing that the lift wouldn’t stop. Or maybe that it would.

I don’t nec­es­sar­ily want to rocket my­self back to the em­bed­ded awk­ward­ness of high school, but I of­ten find my­self wish­ing I could hold on to that headspace when all I had to do was pay at­ten­tion.

Ski­ing, in so many ways, is caked in nos­tal­gia: sim­pler times, na­ture, no agenda, the idea that the ‘80s were peren­ni­ally sunny. It feels like the closer we get to phone-cen­tered convenience, the far­ther we get from that ideal. I don’t want to track my el­e­va­tion, I don’t want to check in, I don’t want to have to fight the urge to check work emails when I’m os­ten­si­bly getting rad. I don’t want to. But I do it com­pul­sively. So of­ten now, the only time that I’m not hy­per­con­scious of my phone is when I’m in mo­tion.

Sure, it’s nice to be able to text a friend to see where they’re hav­ing lunch. And I like hav­ing a camera in my pocket to cap­ture a cool mo­ment, but more and more I feel like I’m snap­ping pic­tures to prove some­thing to an au­di­ence that isn’t there in­stead of shoot­ing them so I can re­mem­ber the mo­ment, or fo­cus­ing on what I’m ac­tu­ally do­ing. I like to think of my­self as some­one who is en­gaged in the world around me, who talks to peo­ple and cares and no­tices the de­tails, but when I reach for my phone I can feel those de­tails rolling away as I scroll. It’s not just ski­ing, it shows up ev­ery­where. I’ll blink up from the screen on a bus ride and an hour will have van­ished. Do­ing that dur­ing a day of ski­ing, even if it was just for a lift ride, feels par­tic­u­larly sad. Like the loss of some­thing that used to be pure.

But if you can force your­self out of the phone zone, even if it takes some ex­ten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances, it’s not so hard to get that headspace back. This win­ter, when I couldn’t whip out my phone on the lift, I talked to peo­ple or sat in awk­ward si­lence un­til we had some­thing to say. There’s an icy joy in that feel­ing of realness. I looked around. I no­ticed more.

I’m al­ways try­ing to fig­ure out why I love ski­ing so much, be­cause I know that it’s il­log­i­cal and ex­pen­sive and, hon­estly, a some­times a pain. I think, at the heart of it, it’s be­cause it’s so phys­i­cal. It’s all feel: the rush­ing risk of be­ing on edge too fast, or the sharp­ness of breath­ing in the moun­tains, at al­ti­tude. Those are things you’ll never be able to get from your phone.

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