Monday, October 30, 2006

a day in the life of

( a memory of a time and a place that used to be my home for 6 long long years)

Early morning wake up before dawn and a pile of fresh snow has blocked the exit door of the house. It is still dark outside, the street is covered in snow , in the light of the street lamps I leave the first tracks in it as I am heading towards the mountain. The backpack’s a bit heavy, I carry my skis on my shoulder, like a soldier carrying his weapon, one step after the other, to the bus stop. It is cold, it’s so cold that I can barely feel how sleepy I am , the bus is all dark and gloomy, the few people in it,7 am on a Saturday, are coming back from their night shifts , or are on their way to their weekend jobs. Us and them, we are like from two different planets, they don’t get it- why I am out in this cold winter morning, and even I try to explain it , they would just think I’ve lost my mind.
Then I’m in the tram taking me to the bus stop where the bus for the mountain leaves, I am not alone anymore, there are other weird people with skis and boards on their way to the slopes of Vitosha. There’s many of us on that bus stop, way too many for the old broken down bus that would take us up to the slopes; then comes the struggle for the last seats in the bus, the ski poles can definitely be an advantage in such a moment, and then we are off, clouds of black smoke coming from the exhaust pipe of the bus, latecomers running after the bus, and the streets are all white and happy
Dragalevtsi, and then comes the forest and the mountain road and the turns, we are slowly making our way out of the smoky prison of Sofia’s smog filling the valley below us. Somewhere midway we break free from the fog and everything suddenly changes – there’s a cloud of white clouds filling everything in all directions, the peaks of the Balkan mountains in the north are like atolls in the Pacific ocean, the snowy slopes of Vitosha are looming above us, and then the sun comes and it’s all so bright and blinding..
Up on the hills everything’s white, the fresh snow shines in the light of the sun and makes those special noises as we walk in it; we are still hoping we would be the first to hit the powder slopes today , before anyone steals our lines.. somewhere in the distance on the Stenata slope I see three winding ski lines going down the hill, someone was up there before us, a snowy satori at sunrise.. The lifts are still closed, so we are sitting in the tea house with the lefties, waiting for them to finish their early morning coffee, board their sledges and go open the lifts; the first descent for the day , the boots are a bit too tight, I still have that extra layer of clothes on , just in case, the blinding light of our eyes looking at the fresh snow is well hidden behind the goggles’ filters.. and then it’s all so easy and beyond words – a slight push with the poles and then all we have to do is follow the gravity as it pulls us down thru the clouds of snow.. and each time that happens , there are these first notes of born slippy/underworld in my head, the soundtrack of a new beginning..
It’s late in the afternoon, my legs can barely hold me, my hands are frozen, and I just keep going, skiing down the ski path to the outskirts of Sofia, (1500 vertical meters descent, 10 km of skiing, in those special days when the snow is plentiful, one can actually ski from the top of the mountain at 2100 m down to the center of the city..)… it’s one of those days where I take off my skis in the center of Dragalevtsi , by the statue of that mountain goat.. I am finally there, I take off my skis and I don’t feel the cold and the fatigue, there’s this wild smile on my face and my whole body is filled with that strange and powerfull feeling that one can get only on days like this one.. and there’s me and these two snowboarders on the bus stop, and they have the same wild smiles on their faces, I am not alone in my madness, they know , they Know, and tomorrow we will be back on the hills again..


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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1:52 PM  

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