I remember calling my mother last year and informing her that I wanted to major in Agrarian Studies. Being from Wisconsin, my parents had grown up in farm-like settings. They knew the tough life of the farmer, and as my mother told me, “We are not paying $40,000-a-year for you to learn about farming. You could go to MIT to learn that”
[Note: My mother was not referring to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, instead, she was alluding to the infamous Milwaukee Institute of Technology, also know in the Hanson family household as “Mother I Tried”].
After my cow-milking hopes were dashed, I developed a new passion in February 2002. After watching the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, I had the deep desire to become a cross-country skier. When I called my parents, I had already developed a four-year training schedule that culminated in a sixth-month stay in Norway to train with former Olympic champions. To say my mother was skeptical is putting it nicely. My father laughed and encouraged me to go back to my studies.
But as I told Dad, I had a better chance winning the gold medal in cross-country skiing than understanding what was going on in Directed Studies Philosophy. Gold medal or Kant? Gracing the cover of cereal boxes or attending section? Norway or WLH 201?
Soon, I became convinced to resign myself to Yale and give up on the skiing. Besides, I had never been skiing: cross-country or the downhill variety. I had never tried on skis; I had never even seen a ski hill. Yeah, I live in Florida. The diving board at the YMCA pool is the highest point above sea level in Orlando.
So, I had pretty much given up my dreams of skiing until this past weekend when seven of my TD friends invited me on a ski trip to New Hampshire.
During the week preceding our trip, I received numerous daily e-mails from my mother: “Don’t listen to Alistair [my roommate]. He will want you to do crazy things. You are a Florida boy.”
When we reached Cannon Mountain, N.H., I was pumped. The eight of us were approaching this day with varying levels of enthusiasm. Bryan and Sarah were ready to take on the Black Diamond, Melissa was all decked out in leopard skin ski gear and a pearl necklace, and I just wanted to make it down the Bunny Slope.
After successfully learning the “snowplow,” I felt I was ready to attack the Green Trail.
During the run, I fell down seven times and almost knocked over an entire ski team from Massachusetts. I was relegated to the Bunny Slope, where I made friends with Peter, a five-year-old from New Hampshire, and his mother. It was Peter’s first time, too.
I think skiing is the only sport where a five-year-old can outperform a twenty-year-old college student. I would fall down, and Peter would ski past me laughing. That little punk!
During the next hour, I perfected the “snowplow” and only fell off the ski lift once. It was time to conquer the Green Trail for real. Once on the trail, I instantly exuded the confidence of a first time skier who had been embarrassed by a five-year-old. I only fell down twice, and one of those times was when I was about to hit a wooden fence, so that really doesn’t count.
The next attempt went without a hitch, except I hit one person. But, she was just standing there, not paying attention, so I guess that doesn’t really count either. My last three times down the hill were flawless.
Just as the ski lodge was closing, I thought I had attained the level of perfection. I was ready to take on the Black Diamond. But, the sun had set. Black Diamond would have to wait for another trip.
So, Mom and Dad, listen up. I will finish my Yale education, but in two-and-a-half years, my training for the 2010 Winter Olympics begins. Don’t worry, I will always have my History major, not Agrarian Studies, for a fallback.