He was looking over at me. My Pops was. I was eating a pizza and staring at the television set, with the occasional glance over at my father. We were alone together. Father had nuked up some microwave popcorn. They would have just started to pre-install microwave units into the newer condos in America, and we were in a condo, only an hour’s drive away (an hour’s drive, Lord) from the small ski village of Sandy, Utah. This boy’s vacation away from home happened before Pops broke the bank, so we were all a lot more modest than we are today.
It was a father–son trip. We flew by plane in coach, into Salt Lake City, and we did a lot of driving with the radio on, making memory-building music. The windy snow was crystallizing on the drifted boughs of the trees. There were snowy white pines and even red cedar. There were young deer running loose in the nearby state parks. The purest sensation of adolescent nostalgia (before the fact) was already causing tiny shivers in my spine. It was making my thin, little, boy-arms shiver. Or maybe it was the snow?
Snowed in as we were, I was stuck with my father. We were watching a rented copy of Raising Arizona on VHS, just after the BetaMaxes became obsolete—I can’t remember when. Most of the best parts of growing up have dulled in my mind, and any magic has finally been quelled.
That first Saturday night, my Pops and I took a soak in the outdoor jacuzzi. The steam was rising up and over the wall thermometer, which said the temperature was 20 degrees, maybe 15. Like I said, I don’t remember all that well.
All I know is, I fell asleep on the couch that night, and we hit a couple of slopes on Sunday. Pops took me to the top of the steepest black diamond slopes. I was challenged to race down, with Pops right behind me, even without the agility I had as a kid.
Pops wiped out at the bottom. I wiped out, too. We stood up shaking off snow, and started laughing.
We had fun while it lasted. I knew I’d have to go back home to mother, eventually. Pops left mother shortly after.
I’d never have another father–son experience quite like it. I guess that’s why it means so much to me now. As faded as the memory is—it was. It isn’t—the one & only.