Never Let Me Go 

I’ve had a good run with winter sports. The past few years have found me skiing (mostly lodging), snowboarding (mostly falling), ice skating (OWNED IT!), snow shoeing (good center of gravity), and now, snow tubing.

Snow tubing is one of those activities I wasn’t privy to in the midwest. For whatever reason I equate it with New Hampshire hills off highways. While I wasn’t immediately familiar with the concept it was explained to me as follows: you go down a big hill in a tube.

snow_tubeThis seemed exciting. Tubes haven’t much height but offer cushioned support. I thought that because of a tube’s material there would be no way to exact speeds as fast as say, a toboggan, because the tube would rip. In all, it seems the perfect ‘sport’ for me. A leisurely ride down a gently sloped hill in a slow moving inner tube – on par with a day in a lazy river, just colder. So I enthusiastically agreed to go.

The day was unseasonably warm. Boston had it’s first hit of 50+ F and residents let it be known by going on runs in the tiniest of shorts, or wearing tees and tanks (sans jacket) and soaking up the sun as if all roads led to the beach. It was silly, and as much as I wanted to frolic through the streets I had a winter sport to attend to, so I donned my snow suit, packed a change of clothes and made way for New Hampshire.

Well, Amesbury. New Hampshire was a step over, but the weather took refuge there, too! Our snow park was reduced to a parking lot slush pool and a gaggle of children in light fleece tops and colorful snow pants. Because I went in thinking tubing was for wusses I didn’t worry much. It wasn’t until we pulled into the sports complex to find a towering hill with steep runs – each carved out of snow with ice tipped bumpers. There was a ‘magic carpet’ – or a flat bed escalator to take you and your tube to the top. There were children in helmets – some in hockey masks (WHY?)- pacing back and forth as we waited for the park to open – one upping each other in dares, each one sure to dive head first or double sure to make their tube fly. I don’t know why anyone would go down, much less draft a death wish by going head first, but the kids seemed resolute. With no one yet on the slope I watched the sport park employees trudge up the hill and stand guard at the dismount. They looked like frigid life guards with no cause for concern. Realizing how afraid I was I looked to the line to find someone, anyone, as nervous as I. This was a fools errand as I, and my cohort of three adult women, were the only unaccompanied adults. Meaning we didn’t have children. Suggesting that we were the only people in greater New England who thought it fun to throw themselves down a hill in a tube on a slick surface for the sheer want of it. Not because a kid in a hockey mask begged it of us. And of our small group only I seemed destined for panic.

I don’t know why I worry, only that I do. And that I have strange ways of attending to my phobias. For one I put myself out there, but I also make a spectacle. I took too long to choose an inter tube, and when I did my selection was curious. As we were some of the first people in line we had our pick of the litter! With so many tubes so late in the season it might be rare to find one in pristine condition but Moira and Angela found the brightest of blue tubes. Karleen, likewise, found one in a ruby shade of red, and I… without being able to explain myself chose the oldest, most faded, saddest looking tube in the lot. It operated and seemed as air filled as the rest, but this tube would never photograph well. This tube was probably the tube everyone left behind – statically growing into it’s shade of grey by way of hiding. It was a tube that spoke to my feelings and I dragged it along like I’d trained it in my own image. (More …)

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