Powder to the People

Snowflake after snowflake is tumbling down on my shoulders, my gloves, my helmet, down my neck where it slowly melts and stains my skin pink. The air in my lungs is so much warmer than the air around me, but I can’t see my breath within all the white and grey falling through the space here.

Photo Credit: Mason Mashon Photo

I can’t see my skis, the snow is now all the way up to my knees. I try and dig a hole down my legs to tighten my boots one more time. I look around, look up to my siblings that are beside me, the only spots of color within my vision. One more time, my brother throws a snowball at me. I laugh and get a little mad internally, but now is not the time. Now is the time to be happy.

We all get out the handles for our ABS avalanche backpacks and connect them to the left shoulder strap. Our guide looks at us, and says “Geht schon!”, meaning “Okay, let’s go!”. We all push our poles into the snow in front of us and hop out of the deep powder as if it was nothing.

Here it goes.

The first second is nothing but exhilarating. I feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins as I float down the mountain, constantly fighting the curves and dips in the snow in order to not face plant. Stay away from the trees, stay away from the edge, don’t cross here, you might set off an avalanche. Just go, you love this.

The powder is fresh; we are the only ones here. This was definitely worth the long hike.

I am cold, but I can feel myself starting to sweat. My boots are too loose, don’t lose focus or you’ll twist your ankle. The snow is melting on my mask; the cold air is freezing it into solid ice. My braid is now white and covered in snow crystals. My breath is now in sync with my dashes, it’s cold and hard through my mouth and it hurts to breathe in; my nose is nearly closed up with ice. Just keep going. You don’t get to do this every day.

There is a steep part ahead. Look at your guide, your siblings, follow their lead. They’re better than you. It’s okay, you’re still doing it. The path is narrow, don’t hit the trees, watch out for the branches, the snow on top of them. Focus, use your legs, stay strong. We haven’t stopped this entire time and my feet and thighs are hurting. It’s good. Look ahead, there’s a lip. Jump, try not to fall, think of how hard it would be to get back up. You don’t want to make everyone else stop for you.

There it is, the bottom of the hill. From now on, it’s flat. There are some bumps, we try and jump and push each other over, race each other, spin around and go backwards. We did it.

We have to cross a stream; there’s a fallen tree trunk to walk on. The stomped-down snow on it makes it slippery and, with tired knees, we all make our way across. Now, all that’s left is a long way back to the town, an hour of walking and pushing through the trees in the valley. I’m really getting hot now; I have to open my jacket, unzip the sides of my pants, but it’s good. I feel good.

We get back to the ski lift and catch one of the last rides. Looking out through the slowly darkening alps around me, I see the mountain we had hiked up this morning in the distance. I feel tired, I feel hungry and sore, but the feeling of victory and accomplishment you get when you finally get to take off your heavy  boots and cold, wet gloves makes up for everything that has been aching for the past few hours.

I feel done; I feel tired; I feel good.

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Goodbye

You left.

You were the one that thought I wasn’t good enough.

I was the one who treated you better than you deserved.

So, please tell me why I am the one who is texting you, trying to mend our relationship.

Tell me why I want to be on okay terms with you, while you don’t.

Actually, don’t. Don’t answer any of those, because I am done.

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I can’t wait until the day you look for me and I am gone.

I can’t wait until you realize what you had and want it back.

Until you’re a man who can actually handle me, rather than the boy you are now.

I can’t wait until you yell for me and I don’t come running to your side like you would imagine.

I wish I could see your face during the moment you read this, the last thing I will ever type to you.  Goodbye, first love.

It’s Not Just A Sport; It’s A Life Style

We are sleep deprived.

We are sore.

We are tired.

We are hungry.

We have achy muscles.

We push ourselves to our limits day after day.

We attend eighteen hours of swim practice weekly.

We do a sport that works the ENTIRE body.

We endure vigorous, agonizing, grueling, strenuous sets.

We push our bodies until we throw up.

Our shoulders pop and crack constantly.

We wake up at four A.M. for morning practices.

We don’t only train in the pool, we run, lift weights, and basically do anything coach tells us to do.

We work and work and work for the hopes of dropping time, yet, many times, our times are stubborn and don’t budge.

We stare at a black line for hours. 25, 50,75, 100. 25, 50…

We cry at times.

We are always striving for a bigger and better goal than the one we just achieved.

“Normal” kids are watching TV; we are training.

We work nonstop, constantly, everyday to take off .01 seconds of our time.

We try our best and still get yelled at. We try our best and get rewarded.

We experience being unmotivated. We push through.

We don’t only strengthen ourselves as athletes, we strengthen our selves as people.

We suffer as a team, we grow as a team, we improve as team.

We make friends and experiences that will last a life time.

We have a second family.

We strive for that amazing feeling after working so, so hard. After giving a workout all you have, we strive for that feeling of accomplishment, achievement, effort, proudness, fulfillment.

We may forget it at times, but we love the sport.

We are swimmers.

A couple days in the past couple weeks, I have been in a slump when I go to practice. I am slower than my teammates who go and qualify for the Olympic trials. I feel slow. I push myself, yet still am slower than my teammates, I get discouraged. I feel like a failure, so I don’t work as hard as I should. I regret my performance in practice. I cry on the drive home.

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Today, I acknowledged the fact that I am on a fast team; my teammates are some of the best in the nation. I acknowledged the fact that I can be like them if I do what I do best: work hard. I acknowledged that I’m on this team for a reason.

Today, I worked so hard that my legs stung, my arms numb, my lungs burned, I got dizzy, my heart beat at what felt like a million miles an hour. At times, I was practically hyperventilating. At points, I wanted to give up, but I didn’t. I pushed as hard as I could. I missed a couple intervals, but I didn’t give up. At the end of the set, my body still ached and burned, but I felt amazing. A feeling of happiness almost beyond words. A feeling that any true athlete understands. At the end of the set, I felt the feeling that makes me remember why I love the sport. Remember why I do all of the things listed above. Remember why I’m so deeply  in love with this sport.

Remember why I am proud to say: “I am a swimmer.”

Sweaty Hugs and Hard-Earned Gatorade

Photo Credit: thepreachersword.com
team
tēm/
noun:
a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport.
synonyms: group, squad, company, party, crew, troupe, band, side, lineup, phalanx
verb:
come together as a team to achieve a common goal.
“he teamed up with the band to produce the album”
synonyms: join (forces), collaborate, get together, work together.
Sweaty hugs; cheering until my throat is raw;the pre-race jitters; hard-earned Gatorade; singing to “Africa” on the bus rides; pushing through almost unbearable pain; the cheers from my coaches and team mates; the feeling of success, when all the hard training and effort pays off; the happiness of coaches bringing food, after you just pushed yourself to your physical max; the endless support we have for each other; the amount of effort we put in; the dynamic and connection between us athletes; the fact that real teammates don’t only care about how you perform, they care about how hard you try. All these things contribute to the the feeling of being part of an authentic team, which is one of the best feelings that exists.
au·then·tic
ôˈTHen(t)ik/
adjective
adjective: authentic.
of undisputed origin; genuine.
“the letter is now accepted as an authentic document”

synonyms: genuine, real, bona fide, true, veritable

antonyms: fake. synonyms: reliable, dependable, trustworthy, authoritative, honest, faithful.

In my words, the way it should be: caring and real. 

I’ve been on many teams before. On some, we’ve won championships and received numerous trophies. On some, we placed last and got our asses handed to us. Winning is great, it’s what I strive to do, but I’ve realized that more than just winning that counts. I’ve realized that to have a good team, winning can’t be the only focus.

On a previous team, every day I would give my all. Yet, no matter how hard I tried, even the slightest mess-up resulted in dirty glares and angry shrugs. It made it so I was nervous to go to practice; I was afraid of my teammates; I pushed myself to the limits, because I was scared the punishment if I didn’t; and I was absolutely mortified before every game. This approach worked. I got stronger, I got better, I became a better athlete, but I forgot the fact that I love the sport.

After two years on that team, another opportunity came up, so I switched to a team with a VERY different dynamic. We pushed each other to do our best, to be our best. When slip-ups or bad days came, we encouraged each other to get better, not to feel like shit. I became so close to my teammates, I had good relationships with my coaches, I was so excited to go to practice everyday, and I pushed myself to the limits, because I wanted to get better for myself and my team. Our team performed just as well as the other one I mentioned and my love for the sport was rekindled.

Recently, I joined another team. I love both of the teams I’m on right now so much, but it’s been a long time since I have felt the feeling of happiness, appreciation, friendship, and passion as I did yesterday at my first ever cross country meet.

I know I love swimming far more than I love running, so it confuses me that yesterday, in this sport that I just joined months ago,  has brought me almost as much joy as the sport I have been doing for years. I think it’s just because swimming is more of an individual sport without a large aspect of team. I think its because the swim team I’m on has people who qualify for the Olympics or on the Junior National Team and I’m so slow compared to them, it makes me feel like I’m slow, period. Maybe its because a cross country the team is only as strong as its weakest link, so everyone is needed. Maybe because in the small league we run in, I too place high and feel like a good runner.

I think all of these things are a factor, but what I know for sure is that the feeling of being part of an authentic team is one of the best feelings that exists.

505 </3

Maybe it was the superficial love I used to be attracted too. In love with the idea of the person, not the person. In love with the idea of being someone’s, anyone’s number one.

Not to say the boys I have been with aren’t special to me, because they are; they always will be. But, I’ve just never felt the way I do now about anyone. I didn’t know I could.

I never understood what people meant when they talked about being in love with someone. When they said they would want to spend all their time with their partner. When their partner would do something so unattractive and they would still be so in love with that person. I always kind of either thought they were faking it or it was something that grows over a lot time.

I understand now.

If I could, I would give everything to this boy.

All we’ve ever been was close friends, but I don’t mind.

I never wanted to lose him. Just being friends was enough for me.

That’s the worst part of it all; we don’t talk as much anymore.

It hurts the most when I know he can see what I said, but doesn’t respond.

It hurts the most when he made me call him when I got home, so he knew I was safe, won’t respond to a stupid message.

I just want to know he still cares about me.

Even when we live hours apart, I want to know he would still see me if he could.

My go-to response to something like this is usually to get angry and cut him off. I say “he isn’t shit” or “screw him” but, I could never be mad at this boy.

“i’d probably still adore you with your hands around my neck”

“505” – The Arctic Monkeys

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Slipping

It seems as if, no matter how much I try to hold on to something, I can’t.  I don’t even have time to wrap my head around anything.

Everything is moving faster than me and I can’t seem to hold onto the present.  Right when I start to settle in, everything changes.

I got used to letting everything slip through my fingertips, until I met you.  When I met you, I finally felt as if I could hold onto something.

But, I was wrong.

I should have known that I couldn’t hold onto anything, let alone you, but I was young and foolish.

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I got used to your arms. I thought they would hold me in the present my whole life.

Then, one day they were ripped away faster than I could blink.  The one place that I truly felt safe was taken away.  It hurt and was scary. I thought it could never get worse, until I realized you meant more to me than I could have ever meant to you. I seemed to be something that you wanted to forget and you wanted to erase me.

You ripped me apart and made me feel lower than I could have ever imaged, but I had my best friend.

At least, that’s what I thought, until she found a new boy who was better than me.

Then, I lost another close friend.  It felt as if he dropped off the face of the earth.  He never texted me and I never even saw or heard anything about him, until he was on my friend’s story.  This friend thought we had drifted apart and no longer wanted to be my friend as well.

So, I laid in my bed all day with nothing to do and no one to do nothing with.

All my friends did things with their summers, they posted it, too.  I watched them have fun and get tan as I laid in bed and let the present fully slip from my grasp.

Now, I have to grow up, vote, apply to college, and survive my senior year. I have to do this while faking to everyone I have a grip on the present and present myself as put-together.

I’ve slipped like this before and somehow I was able to make it out, but sometimes it really seems impossible without you.

Why wasn’t I enough for you?

Why did you let me slip?

Why wouldn’t you let me make things okay?

Why should I try to make things okay when you’re the one who fucked it up?

I Miss You

When I say I miss you, it’s not you that I miss.  I just miss the memories and I miss what we had. I miss the beach and Mongolian BBQ.  I miss all the things I will never experience again.

Photo Credit: art-en-provence.com

When I say I want you back, you have to understand I don’t want who you are now.  I want who you used to be and the way we used to be.

When I say I love you, I hope you know I am not in love with you anymore.  I just have love for you.  I want the best for you and hope you’re happy, but I don’t look at you and become filled with happiness and love anymore.

I hate when I hear bad things about you.  I hate to see you struggling with something, but most of all I hate that we don’t even smile at each other anymore.

I will always care, even if I don’t want to be with you.

I could never say any of this out loud to anyone, so I hope you read this and know who you are.  Maybe, one day, we could go back to that beach and be happy again.