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the last entry for a while

Salt Lake City is organized on a numbered grid system, with the Mormon Temple at the center (0,0) and the rest of the streets fanning out north, south, east, and west in straight, orderly lines. The valley is flat; mountains form protective stockades on the eastern and western edges. It’s the eastern peaks that draw the powder addicts: the Wasatch front, a 10,000 foot high wall, home to six of the biggest ski resorts in Utah. I live at 9600 S (96 blocks south of the temple) and 800 E (8 blocks east of the temple), in the suburbs, where every road is four lanes wide, every lane is thick with cars, and every car has only one person in it. I commute, on foot, on bike, and on bus, riding up out of the valley and into the canyon early every morning, half asleep. I bum rides from friends and coworkers every night. The valley plays hide and seek with us as we drive down after dark; the huge, flat, salty expanse twinkles with little lights that appear and disappear behind the high canyon walls.

I work weekends at Brighton, and now, weeknights at Solitude, where I work for the condo management company as a hybrid housekeeper-supervisor-houseman-front-desk-gopher type person.  The job is varied, physical and lets me ski all day and earn money at night. And there are other perks: brand new telemark boots, my size, that I found thrown in the garbage, and the three bottles of $30 wine sitting on my dresser, also salvaged from the leavings of a group of millionaires I had to clean up after.  The best part of it, though, is the housekeeping staff from Mexico, Peru, Boliva, and Ecuador. I speak Spanish with them all day, joke about traditions, reminisce about locations, and at lunch share their maiz tostada, mote and platano frito.  I can’t describe how much this means to me, how happy this makes me.  And the housekeepers are pretty excited about it too. As in Peru and Ecuador, the respect I earn for speaking their language is enormous. Here, however, I find our interactions more fulfilling. Most of these people have lived in the US for 7, 8, 9 years, and have adapted to our culture.  When we talk, there’s no frustrating gap in understanding. We aren’t explaining to each other, we’re conversing; between my knowledge of Latinos and their knowledge of Norte Americanos, we’ve got a good middle ground where we can relate to each other.

The skiing is unbelievable. There are six ski areas spread across the Wasatch Front. With the right gear and a lot of traversing, it’d be possible to ski from one ridgeline to the next, leapfrogging from one ski area to another. The possibilities are dizzying. There is so much snowfall every winter that everything is skiable. Even the most rock-studded and tree lined chute will yield great, soft turns once it’s filled in. I had my first powder day two weeks ago, in Solitude’s famous Honeycomb Canyon, a fresh tracks treasure trove. Visibility was poor: it was snowing, and snowing hard. The mountain’s lower elevations picked up four inches of freshies in two hours. From the top of the chairlift, Honeycomb Canyon is accessible via a tiny track running around the top of the canyon wall, and my friend Patrick and I shuffled and side-stepped our way across it, through the trees and over rocks for five thigh-burning minutes to arrive at a steep, open pitch: covered in snow and completely untracked. I followed Patrick over the lip into the waist deep snow, took two turns, and laughed. “I’m never going to leave this place, am I?” I shouted down at Patrick. My legs were on fire and my face was numb, but I was grinning like a crazy person.

Christmas I spent in the valley, watching the weather out the windows of my friend Nick’s house. Wind, then rain, then sleet, then snow, finally, falling at more than an inch an hour. We tried to make a snowman, and had to use road-slush to hold the fresh, dry snow together. The day after Christmas I worked in the ski school at Brighton, helping tame the line of powder-hungry kids and parents that snaked all the way out of the lobby and down the hill outside, and counted my blessings that I don’t have to ski during the holidays.

So, life is good, and the skiing is great, and the writing…well, that’s been a little strained. In the interest of not forcing it, I’m taking a hiatus from the blog for the time being. This means you all will have to work a little bit harder to find out what I’m up to. Send me emails (susanmunroe@gmail.com), please, or call (email me to ask for the phone #) – I’m closer to you all than I’ve been in a year and I own a cell phone. Me not writing the blog shouldn’t mean that we lose touch; it should give us a reason to reconnect. In the meantime, enjoy life, and I’ll do the same.  I’ll let you know when you can expect to see me back here.

And when the inspiration strikes, I will be back.  See you in a bit.

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