You’ve bled here, fallen here, lost memories and friends and lovers here.
In return it gave you cracked ribs and dislocated limbs, skin so numb it took hours for feeling to return and yet you always find a way back. It’s part of you now, the same way your fingers and toes and heart and fear are. The love for this place, this moment, this stillness of feeling pressed into every inch of you until it is so deeply ingrained the removal would gut you.
At the peak of every mountain you look out and search for the others. You are often bisected by oceans and time-zones, firewalls and power-lines, but still this moment is shared. You see yourself, a stranger in retrospect, looking back across the divide, that never ending stretch of white.
Every time you’re so afraid it feels like falling in love.
Like coming home.
Sometimes you wish you could stay in this moment, all brittle bones and lungs on fire.
To live is to stay, to stay is to die. Maybe the truth is that this only matters because it ends.
You’d season hopped before. Forgot the feel of the sun on your face, thermal layers and sweaters a second skin. Scarves and stockings, boots and gloves more comforting than the arms of the man you left behind. You became transparent, transient, no roots nor home but glad all the same. Winter after winter, ice in all your clothes and the gaps between your memories.
But people died that way. Avalanches. Falls. Torn ligaments and broken bones, adrenaline surging and injuries spreading.
You know yourself too well to stay, even though your heart screams to never leave. It speaks in a different language, one you’ve always been too smart to learn.
Sometimes others joined you. Breaths in tandem, blood in tandem. You shared so many moments here with people you treasured. Some for a season, some for a lifetime.
White out days spent inside drinking whiskey and sharing promises, silly games and better music, the reckless jumping from the second floor into feet of snow. You’d held many faces back from porcelain, poured as many acquaintances into bed as shots of tequila. Fallen asleep under three ski jackets in the middle of the oval, looking up at the stars. There was less light pollution that far from the city, so the milky way stretched on and on, endless in every direction.
You’d huddled with other instructors in gondolas surrounded by gale force winds, carriage rocking slowly back and forth. Rescued people from tree wells, found skis 4 feet under. Hiked mountains to help people who had fallen, splinted broken collarbones and checked for concussions. Small moments that become your life, each day a surprise, each night returning home to an aching body and tired mind. You had never been so exhausted. Mulled wine, communal dinners, her smile across the table as she painted mountain after mountain, slope after slope, the pink of your pants and print of your jacket making quiet cameos at their peaks.
Sometimes you want to share this with someone, share yourself with someone. Maybe they are the same thing now.
You remember standing at the crossroads, between this life and the next. Or maybe it was between signposts marking runs as blue and green and black. The same colours as the bruises on your thighs, your arms, fading now but nearly as painful as the time you fell off that cliff face, skis buried in powder and poles lost. You’d nearly suffocated, white below and above and around. Soft and thick and final.
Sometimes the cold is so cold it burns.
Sometimes you still wish you could die here.
You’ve left a lot of people in this place, buried them where there is no horizon. One day you will lead yourself by the hand and then let go, another ghost to be forgotten when it no longer serves you.
So too will you leave him here. Leave the weight of his lies and the press of his hands.
When you loved him you brought him here and showed him this, thought that maybe he’d understand. But when he looked out all he saw was white, when all you saw was never ending.
You’re grateful in some way that a part of you is unknowable. That there is something left he cannot lay claim too, will never be his.
Let you be like the falling snow, covering tracks and cracks until everything is perfect and smooth. You are, once more, untouched. New and soft and so, so white.