No pole skiing gives a burning sensation that you previously thought you wouldn’t feel until a race, but here it is, skiing up and down in the meadow trying to mimic Sierra’s technique, with Mt. Elbert ominously staring at you. Hours before, waking up in the middle of the night to my teammates sleeping heavily, dreaming dreams that would be discussed around the breakfast table.
This week was my first thanksgiving camp with the team. Leaving on Tuesday, I was feeling nervous yet excited. I knew that this week was not going to be easy, however, I knew I would be making memories that will truly never leave me. Here we all are, piling into Dick and Evelyn’s house. Tiny but cozy, we all grab mats and set them up to someone we know we can sleep next to for the following week. It kept occurring to me, it’s pretty amazing to have a sense of family and familiarity with the people surrounding you at this age, when you know that everyone is at a different stage in their life. It hit me how grateful I am when we were all (26 of us) sitting around the kitchen table in the small, slightly off center, dining room. Forks and knives clinking, laughs coming from every angle, compliments on the tastiness of the meal, and smiles that not only were noticeable but you could actually hear. “I’m thankful for my family back home for giving me opportunities like this”, “I’m thankful to have you all as a second family,” “I don’t need any grandchildren, because I have 20+ surrounding me right now, and you have no idea how happy you all make Dick and I”. It’s comments like that that put my happiness into perspective. It’s when Rachel, Christi, Sierra, and I glance at each other and realize that these tears coming from our eyes are not because of sadness, but rather happiness that was so apparent in the room. It’s looking across the table and seeing Bridget, Britta, Yara, Sierra, and Ava laughing because of the pumpkin tower before them; it’s seeing Kyle and Taylor laughing with smiles reaching to their ears; it’s seeing Will talking to Rachel about something that we all want to listen to, but at the same time leave them to it because the conversation seems so passionate; it’s seeing Elise and Sindre holding hands and feeling the love radiate. Yet, you don’t have to be a couple to feel the love that this team shares. It is constantly surrounding us, endlessly filling our empty spots. So, here I am, reminiscing over the memories from the talent show, thanksgiving dinner, the hour upon hour skis that brought me a level of happiness that before I thought was unattainable. Here I am thinking about how Will and I just played guitar together while the entirety of the team sang “hallelujah”, and how I can say with the utmost positivity, that in this moment I have never been happier.