Monday, February 4, 2013

The Slopes Part 1.

I pace back and forth and all around my small condo. He should be here by now, I thought. Kellen’s plane landed six hours ago and it’s only a four hour drive from Denver to Aspen. Even with the snow, it shouldn't take this long to get here. I picked up the pillow I’d tossed on the floor earlier and placed it back on the chair. I glanced at the clock again and then over to one of the pictures on the side table. It was of Kellen and me on the slopes a couple years ago. I wore black snow pants and a hot pink coat and ski goggles. Kellen had picked out the coat saying that a girl should never wear all black. I hated pink, but I let him buy it because he was Kellen and once he made up his mind, you didn't question his motives. I still have the coat and goggles, but I only wear them when he’s here. 
                My phone rings and pulls me from the thoughts.
“Hey Lena, It’s Kellen. I’m about an hour away. My luggage was lost and I had to fill out reports and stuff. Should I stop for lunch or do you have something amazing waiting for me?”
Kellen thinks I can cook. Nope. I pre-order food and keep it in the freezer and prepare it while he’s here to impress him while he’s here. I usually eat out every meal or eat cereal or toast, something I can’t ruin. It’s not like we’ll be getting married and he’ll discover my secret.
“No, just come here and we’ll go out. We can eat and get you some new clothes and gear” I say.
“Ok Len. See you soon, bye”
“Bye”, but he’s already hung up.
Ok, an hour. What to do in an hour. I call Mike at The Shack to let him know Kellen and I will be there in an hour and have our usual ready.
I sure love living here. My condo is small. Its big enough for two people, but small enough to feel cozy when a snow storm is raging outside. Being a ski instructor and the resort pays more than enough to cover all my bills and then some. And the private lessons I teach allow me to save and have extra money for whatever I may want.
I turned a slow circle in my living room and took in the small space. A mocha colored, squashy love seat and an oversized chair fill the room and are covered with an array of multi-colored pillows and throws. Side tables and an ottoman offer place to set drinks down when I entertain guests. A large flat screen TV I bought for Christmas this year sits opposite the chair. I don’t watch it much, choosing to read most nights instead. Off to the left is the dining room. A cherry wood, high top table sits under a modern looking chandelier that came with the condo. And just beyond the dining room is my yellow kitchen. It has no windows so I painted it yellow and installed white cabinets and appliances. Everyone thinks it's ugly, but it works for me. My bedroom is down the hall from the kitchen to the left. It’s a huge room with an en suite bathroom, floor to ceiling windows with a view of them mountains, and a walk in closet that is stuffed with clothing I never wear. When friends come they want to shop, so I shop too. The king sized bed sits in the middle of the room. I have no idea why I bought a king sized but, but I did and I love it.
Gathering my thoughts I sit down on the chair and look over again at the pictures on the side table. Next to the one of Kellen and me in our snow gear is a small picture in a silver frame of us at my High School Prom. I smiled sadly as I remember that night.
I wore knee length, black, velveteen dress with hot pink ribbon piping around the edges that spun when I twirled. I knew this because Kellen twirled me many times on the dance floor that night. In the picture, Kellen is smiling smugly. We’d had to take the picture three times. The first time Kellen stuck his tongue out. The second time, he’d dipped me backwards and pretended to kiss me and finally the photographer said that the next picture would be the last one so make it good. It was a good picture. But it reminded me that Kellen never took our relationship seriously. It was probably my fault. We almost didn't make it to Prom. He’d already graduated the year before and didn't think he wants to show up again. When he told me this, I’d called a mutual friend and cried and cried. She called him as soon as we hung up and gave her a piece of her mind. He called me back and apologized. He hadn't wanted me to cry and agreed to take me to my Prom. We were best friends and he wanted me to have a good time. We were best friends. I’d always call him anytime I’d break up with my boyfriend and he’d threaten to kick asses. He protected me. Thinking back on all the times I’d called him made me realize that I was the one who ruined any kind of relationship Kellen and I could have had. I’d over looked him to many times as a possible boyfriend for him to make any kind of move. But, I’d had a nasty break up right before Prom and Kellen had stepped in again as my trusty stand by.
The night was almost perfect. We ate, we danced, and we partied after. He’d even kissed me when he dropped me off at home. I was almost perfect, but it was also the night I realized I loved Kellen and he didn't love me back.
It’s been 7 years since Prom night. Seven years of steadily declining phone calls between the two of us, seven years of boyfriends and girlfriends come and gone. Seven years schooling, jobs, moves, and countless other distractions.
Somehow the two of us decided to go skiing together in Aspen the Christmas I graduated high school. We skied the week the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. We stayed at my parents’ condo and invited a few friends to join us. We all had a great time and we made it a tradition for the next few years. Slowly though, friends got married or had kids or moved away until it was just Kellen and me for the last couple years. Somewhere in there I decided to stay in Aspen. I transferred to the University of Denver, finished school there and moved to Aspen and became a ski instructor. This year would be the same. Just Kellen and me, alone in the condo, skiing, shopping and eating for a week.
A knock at the door drew me out of my trip down memory lane.
I opened the door and Kellen walked in with just his carry-on bag. He dropped it in the doorway and made his way to me and wrapped his arms around me in a hug. He buried his face in my hair and I allowed myself to hug him back. I inhaled deeply and his familiar smell of cologne filled my senses. He smelled so good. Fresh and sweet like mountain air. I should now what mountain air smells like since i'm on one every day. 
 He let go and said “let’s go eat.”
“Are we going to Mike’s?” He asked as I turned down the street to the shopping/dining district.
“Yes, I called after you called me. They’ll have our usual ready for us”
The rest of the drive to The Meatball Shack was quiet. Usually we talk about what has happened over the past year. Our dinner was also quiet. Our food was at the table when we arrived and the waitress brought us our favorite dessert. After dinner we headed over to some clothing stores to see what we could get for him as far as clothing.
“I actually didn't bring my skis and gear. It was too expensive to fly with them so I figured I’d just rent. Good thing, huh?”
“Oh yeah, good thing. It would have been terrible to lose all that.”
Kellen loved shopping. He was kind of like a girl. He modeled his choices for me in the dressing room and I gave thumbs up or thumb down. I think he ended up buying everything anyway. Once we finished it was almost dinner time. We’d been shopping for hours.
“Let’s grab some Chinese takeout and eat at home tonight” I suggested
“Sounds good, I’ll run in and grab some if you want to keep the car warm”
We made t home and I turned the oven on to keep the food warm while Kellen put his clothes away and set up in the spare room. I was setting the table when he came out.
“Mmmm, smells good.”
“Yeah, I love Chinese. I don’t eat it very often”
We sat down and started eating. I prayed it wouldn't be a silent meal like lunch had been. I wracked my brain for something to talk about.
“So what time do you want to hit the slopes tomorrow?” He asked
“Oh, um, as early as you want. I have no lessons scheduled. I’m all yours this week” I said with a little smile.
He sat back and stared at me with a serious look in his eyes. “Where’s Lucas?”
“He’s on a business trip in New York until after the first of the year.” I was a little nervous.
Kellen leaned forward again and rested his elbows on the table and lifted his fork full of food to his mouth. Before he took a bite, he looked up at mean with what I can only describe as a gleam in his eye and said “fantastic”.
The next morning, we woke up, ate some breakfast then headed down to the ski lodge to rent some skis.
“Hey, you still have the pink coat I bought you! And the goggles! Do you like pink now?”
“Ha-ha, um, no. I don’t really. I just know you like it when I wear it.”
“I do like you in pink”
I just blushed and looked away. Was he flirting with me? He knows he shouldn’t be doing that. He knows I’ve liked him for years, but neither of us could make it work. I walked out of the lodge and started getting my gear together and headed to the ski lift. He followed me out. He was quiet. We put on our skis and waited for the chair lift to pick us up. The cool mountain air was refreshing. It helped me clear my head. I loved looking out over the snow capped mountains and breathing in the crisp clean air. It was calm and quiet up here. The snow deadened all sounds. Occasionally you’d hear a skier yell or something, but for the most part there was silence.
We spent the whole day on the slopes. He wanted to start small but eventually we were back to racing each other down the hills and taking turns down the steeper runs. The next few days were much of the same. Skiing all day long, breaking only for food and to warm up with coffee or hot coco. In the evenings we’d return home and we’d eat then watch some show on the TV. Usually I’d read then go to my room and try to sleep only to start reminiscing and or thinking about what Kellen and I could have been. It was getting quite ridiculous. I made myself blush on more than one occasion.
The week was coming to an end. We’d skied, shopped at almost every store and eaten at almost every restaurant. There had been no more flirting incidents. I’m not even sure he was flirting; maybe he was just saying he liked it when I wore pink. But then there was the way he said “fantastic” at dinner on the first day after asking where Lucas was.
We sat in the living room watching TV, some crime show.  I was contemplating taking a shower and then heading to bed. I stood up from the loveseat and crossed the room, still not sure what I wanted to do.
“So, how’s the wedding planning going” Kellen asked without taking his eyes off the TV.
I did not want to talk about the wedding. I had procrastinated and even changed the date 3 times.
“Umm, it’s good, still deciding on a date.”
“Do you have your dress picked out?”
“Is it here?”
“Can I see you in it?”
“What? Why?”  Why did he want to see me in my wedding dress? He’s invited to the wedding.
“I don’t know. I’m bored and I want to see you dressed up. Hey, do you remember Prom? I loved you in that dress. That was a great night.”
Why was he bringing up Prom? This was odd.
“Sure. Yes. I remember Prom. It was a fun night. I liked the end.”
“When I kissed you?”
“Yes” my voice faltered. Kellen stood up from the loveseat and walked over to me. He put his hand on my cheek. I leaned into it and he moved his hand into my hair.
“Why haven’t you set a date for your wedding yet, Helena?”
He never called me Helena. It was always Lena or Len. He put his other hand on my face and tilted my head so I was looking into his eyes. Oh my, his blue eyes were fierce looking.
“I…um…I….I don’t know” I stumbled over my words. I couldn’t think of a reason. I couldn’t think of anything.
“Is it because of me? Is it because you can’t stop thinking of what we could have been? Because that’s all I think about, I keep coming here to ski with you hoping something will happen. Hoping I can make something happen. Damn it Lena!”
And he kissed me. Hard. 

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