LIKE A BAT OUT OF HELL
I was surprised to see a picture of myself right on your front page (“Where Everything Makes Sense,” 47.1). I’m the snow-covered skier on the chairlift at Alta. At first I wasn’t sure, but then I saw my same boots, bindings, gloves, jacket, goggles, even the bent rental poles—one striped with black duct tape. The Intro was a great read, evoking the shit-eating-grin-inducing feelings we’ve all had sitting on the chairlift getting nuked on. I particularly liked the bit about the sheer happenstance, considering the story that got me to that chairlift in Alta was anything but.
I had been on an endless road trip, chasing storms from Tahoe to Jackson. But it was a dry winter and eventually, everywhere I went was slick brown ice and I retreated farther south and east, into the desert, skis covered in sad red dust, unused on my roof racks.
Eventually I found myself in New Orleans, chasing broken dreams with whiskey shots. My money was drying up, and I was wondering what to do next. Then I checked my phone. Big storms were moving through the West. Several feet of snowfall was expected everywhere.
I got back in my car and drove out of the swamp like a bat out of hell, catching a speeding ticket as I said sayonara to Louisiana. All through the night, eyelids drooping, pounding gas station coffee, stopping only to refill and refill and how many times have I stopped for gas now? It was day and night and day again, and the only thing I could taste was burnt, shitty coffee. Thirty hours of straight driving and I pulled into Salt Lake City. My tires had started to bald on the drive, and the half-broken little Subaru skidded its way through the thick falling snow to the Park and Ride at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon.
I woke up buried. I struggled to get the car door open and got my first face shot of the day as a foot of snow emptied off the roof. Fast forward a few hours of sitting on the bus through ungodly traffic up the canyon, buying a pass, waiting in the weekend powder day lift line, and there I am, as captured, oblivious to me. Gone were the thoughts that had plagued me all through the desert: What the hell am I doing out here? Why am I homeless, drifting around the country alone in my rapidly deteriorating car, hemorrhaging the money I saved up all summer? Am I crazy? All that was there was the anticipation, the sheer breathless am-i-actually-right-here-right-now, can’t-stop-laughinglike-a-madman joy of being alive, outside on top of a mountain in the puking snow with two planks strapped to my feet. And then I got off the chairlift and pointed myself down the hill, and I skied. Zack Sklar