Still in schock this trip has become a reality. Also, in shock from boarding a flight at 6am. Was so fortunate to have Hillary's assistance at 3:45 am to be at the airport by 4:30. If you actually know me, I have never been what anyone would describe as a morning person. Not sleeping last night, though, I hoped to avoid the morning ataxia I'm so prone to. However, I hope to keep my spirit in check by the time I arrive in CO this afternoon.
The plane lands in Chicago in an hour or so. Hearing this destination brings Sean to mind. A subject I've worked reverently to squirrel away for far too long. Over the years as I've adapted to my changing menagerie of handicaps we refer to as my brain injury. However, I'm extremely cautious, more so than I ever intended, but it's like protective reflex I developed, when I lost my emotional life-line. I suppose I felt like I woke up I'in a world where I'd been robbed of everything I identified myself as. And the life-line I gravitated to was Sean, because, at the time I felt he had the most plausible chances of helping me rediscover, who I'd been. And, for whatever bizarre reason, being at the airport, where I don't know a soul, often brings back that type of recollection. However, the stars seem more aligned now, as these memories bring back my former enthusiasm of being independent. I feel as though my need for independence is often berated these days, but as I inch closer to the finish line of my TBI waiver program, the less tolerance I have for any of it. Which is why I'm so looking forward to a week away from anything familiar to me.
Oh yeah, so I was flying Colorado, overjoyed to have an opportunity to visit a friend I'd met at VT adaptive last year(she was coordinating their program, at the time). So, I arrived in Montrose, CO, to a Burlington sized airport, which I very much appreciated, coming from Chicago's O'Hare. I probably passed 2 gates, before I saw the exit, and Maggie! Relief! It was so wonderful to see a familiar face at last! After we said our greetings, she grabbed my mammoth snowboard travel case from the luggage belt, and we made our way to the car. After a fast-food lunch, we ran into Target, to get some essentials, for the organization she works for. After thar that, we started the 3 hr drive back to Crested Butte, with one pit stop at black Canyon National Park. It is apparently second in size to the Grand Canyon. Though, in my opinion, the lack of crowds this time of year, really detracted from it's grandeur. Though, the landscape was still so captivating, and the colorful, and kind gentleman who ran the visitor center made the event particularly memorable.
An hour after that excursion, we began to head for Crested Butte, and I was captivated by the scenery.
Upon arrival, I was instantly stricken by by the looming mountains, including one that's curiously shaped my. Crumpet, the small pinnacle from dr. Suess's The Grinch. First activity in Crested Butte? Walk to a local Bar, for pizza and beer. The Courtney Blasius of 2007, would've been pumped about this dinner choice, but I still have a hard time assessing my limits, and realizing how far I can push myself. So, the next morning, I was pretty grumpy, and wanting to play outside, but didn't have the amount of energy I'd anticipated.
Both Saturday and Sunday, I (me with 2 adaptive coaches) snowoarded, and Maggie and I saw concerts, The Barenaked Ladies, and Guster, as well as celebrating St. Patricks day, attending a 60th birthday arty(where I felt like I met the majority of the town. Such a close-knit community! Everywhere we go, Maggie introduces me to amazing people, and this party was no exception. I met the ever so gracious birthday boy, who was so pleased to share details about his ranch, and graciously invited Maggie and I to visit his ranch. The prospect of seeing a horse again, is beyond thrilling, as it's been more than 3 months. Were planning to check it out, on the way to the airport thursday, which I imagine will be a phenomenal parting memory. Sunday, was equally amazing. I had opted to make pottery that morning, with a local, acclaimed potter, Donna Rosman. Maggie and I painted platters. My hands are particularly unsteady, and I tried to be as neat as possible, though, I'm pretty sure if I told you it was a 5 yr. Olds handiwork, you'd believe that. Apparently my current concept of a straight line is somewhat askew. It felt Bo rewarding to create something by hand. It was also incredibly amusing, when the peanut gallery came in for a drink, and immediately put Maggie on the spot. So terrible of me to fund amusement in that moment, but I think I was mostly glad it wasn't me.
Snowboarding was phenomenal that afternoon. They brought me up the lift, after several trips up the magic carpet. Over the weekend, I worked with people from adaptive action sports, a non-profit based in Crested Butte, that works with disabled athletes to empower people who've sustained life changing injuries.
As were leaving, I received what was quite frankly the funniest offer for help going down a precarious stairwell. When someone listing left and right, slightly slurs his words, and offers you help walking, my first instant is to take my chances, and go on my own. But, as. I hesitated, he interjects, "it's okay if you fall, you can ride me down the stairs.". With an offer like that, I couldn't say no thanks. We made it down fine, although I had to refuse his help for walking. I still can't get over how thoughtful and generous people are here, even when they're drunk. Later, Maggie was telling some guy to watch his step, because my balance wasn't very good. He says, why's that? I responded that I had an anoxic brain injury, and was immediately bear hugged, then picked up and swung in a circle. Definitely the most unique response I've ever received, when telling someone about my brain injury. All you can do is laugh. But then, he opens his palm to reveal some gnarly scars, as if to relate to a brain injury. The scars were unlike others I'd seen before, and being curious, I asked what it was from. Blew his hand apart, while setting off a fire cracker. I might've said, yup that'll happen, and then realized I was being as insensitive as he was and tried to be more polite about it. Which, by the way is a useless waster of time in situations like that.
Maggie and I also checked out Guster, from the porch above the outdoor stage. Right before Guster came on, I went to the bathroom. The whole time I'm inside, people are discussing the crazy weather conditions. Maggie comes in too, talking excitedly about lawn darts going into the crowd, and I'm thinking of course, I went inside when something ridiculous and notable happens. I went back out to hear them close with 'wheel in the sky' which was the song I knew them for.
After the show, we headed to another bar, where we heckled people for seats, and this man is getting up, graciously gives me his seat, and his bud lite mardi gras beads, after I complimented them. He also bought my beer, and promptly left the bar. Completely ridiculous interaction. Though, still very kind. Last nite after, Maggie helped me get downtown, for the ladies camp dinner. Which was fantastic! We All enjoyed a hearty meal, though mine was pretty good, I don't ever know why I order seafood, when I travel. I'm a spoiled Mainer, and I'm used to decent seafood everywhere, in Maine. I regret it, every time I order it in Vermont too. The food was still wonderful, but I will not be ordering seafood again, in Colorado. By the time diner ended, the snow was dumping down, but we were able to get a ride back from the Adaptive Action Sports crew, who'd been helping me snowboard all weekend. Not only did all of us get a ride home, but they even helped me up the ridiculous stairway up to the apartment. Normally, I immediately reject help on stairs, but in those conditions, I was so relieved to have the help of two people. I still have trouble with the fact that I need so much extra help, but am trying to learn to be more appreciative, of those who help me do things, I can no longer do independently. Apparently my road to acceptance is somewhat endless, but that may be why I push every step of the way. I am so thankful for everyone I interacted with on this trip, because being in a brand new setting, really allowed me to gain some new insight as to who I am, and how I deal with new situations. It forced me to realize that I am rather sheltered in my life here in greeny, VT and I need to bite the bullet and learn to be more social again.
Tuesday and Wednesday I rode with 2 different adaptive instructors. I ran into the same difficulties I'd had on Friday, with describing my setbacks, what I'd been through, and what I hoped to accomplish. I'm biased against riding with skiers, because of a painful fall I took in VT last year, involving a skier whose ski tip went under my board, and all 3 of us going down, me underneath everyone and their skis. Now, when I go, I try pretty hard to only get competent snowboarders, as I never liked to play pig-pile to begin with. I had to swallow my fears Tuesday and Wednesday however. I could tell, I was about to reach my end-point in those last days. I always want to keep going until I crash, and I was having a trend soupy difficult time dealing with questions, and new suggestions. I felt like a 5 yr old, getting so upset, but one of the instructors kept pushing forward despite the fact I kept getting more upset. By the time we actually went outside I wasn't interested, but I wanted to make most of my time there, and tried to just be thankful I was on the mountain at all. After snowboarding, they were enormously gracious to allow me to make a conference call back to VT to participate in a planning meeting for the Walk For Thought, which I tremendously appreciated. I enjoyed my hour posing as executive director of the adaptive sports center. That night, the adaptive ladies camp participants were invited to a volunteers for dinner. Maggie accepted the position of adaptive van driver, and we did a little tour of the mountain before picking everyone up. Dinner was fantastic, and it was wonderful to have an opportunity to connect with group further.
The next day, was my last day on the mountain. I knew I was starting to get burnt out, when a similar situation ensued with the adaptive instructors, as the day before. Id gotten to be able to be somewhat okay with the adaptive equipment Id used all weekend. It upset me when i couldn't work on snowboarding in that manner, on the last two days. Looking back I wish I'd tried the sit-ski for a run or 2. I think my brain was fried from so many new situations, I was no longer capable of thinking outside the box. But, there's always next time right? To end the day, I accompanied Maggie and a couple friends to a local burrito joint. It completely reminded me of Burlington's Boloco Burritos. So filling. It was a wonderful ending to my vacation. From there we headed over to spectate the intramural kickball tournament, where I really got to say my goodbyes, as practically everyone I'd met was either playing, or spectating. I was slightly nervous about taking a kickball to the face, as I no longer react quickly to objects flying at me. We more or less stayed out harms way. I felt so fortunate to be able part ways, having gotten as many goodbyes in as possible. When we had walked in on of my instructors from the weekend had said that Amy, from earlier in the weekend had wanted to say goodbye. He must've let her know, we were there, because we saw her on the way out, and went to one of the many local watering holes. It was so kind of her to stoop over, and of Maggie to want to come as well. I met so many compassionate, down to earth people in a week, in a tiny ski town, than I feel like I've met in the last year here. I know that there are reasons for that, but it was the most amazing week!