GPS- Chapt 6
You know... the Alps are really pretty... when you’re not driving in them. Really, what was I thinking when I told my brother I would be fine following him in his truck. Apparently I had too many pancakes or maybe Marie spiked the syrup or something, 'cuz I feel like crap and the “recomputing” mechanical woman's voice that rings through the car feels too much like yesterday. Talk about deja’vu.
The only thing different about today, is that Maurise isn't with me. Which means this whole first part of this chapter should be bleeped.
I was so angry with myself for relying on my stupid GPS for a “shortcut”.
“What the hell was I thinking?” I scold myself in the quiet... semi-quiet, car.
“Recomputing,” the GPS says cheerfully.
“Yeah, Gigi, this was a great idea,” I continue angrily, “Find a shortcut so you can beat Huey over to the Ski resort-”
“-and rub it all in his face. Ha! Now he'll be rubbing it in my face... what a dumb-”
“- I am!” I punch the stirring wheel and swerve a bit on the icy road. I look around at the very familiar snow. “D-”
“... I hope they don't come looking for me.” I look at the one car behind me and wonder if they actually know where they are going. I think for a moment of my options. I ponder on how stupid it would be to get out of the car and ask for directions. It could be an Ax-murderer driving behind me for all I knew... which was kind of random for Austria but... you know. Finally I decide I will pull over and ask him. I put on my blinker- like that means anything out here- and pull over; hoping whoever it was will get the point.
Thankfully they do, pulling over and waiting for me to approach them. I uneasily unbuckle my seat belt and walk up to the parked car behind my rental. As I get closer and the sun's glare on the car window isn't as intense, I see an elderly woman who looks about seventy with white hair and wrinkles. The uneasiness goes away immediately.
“Hi,” I say politely as the elderly woman rolls down her car window and glares at me with dull blue eyes. “Do you know how to get to the Ski Resort?”
She keeps the glare on her face and shakes her head, then rolls up the window and revs the engine. I step back quickly, frowning angrily after the old woman who is now driving very fast, away from me.
“What a bag of nuts and nails,” I say to myself and stick my tongue out in her direction. I look around uncertainly at the looming cliff face covered in all too familiar snow and then a shiver goes up and down my spine. I turn around in all directions, and guess that, after not finding any creepy vampire/werewolf stalking me, it was just the cold that made me shiver from head to toe.
“Now what?” I ask myself and walk back towards the rental.
“Took you long enough,” Huey says, wrapping a warm arm around my shoulders as I finally walk into the cute family-run ski resort. I was plumb tired of driving and really, really ready for an adventure.
“I know,” I moan and throw my head back against his arm, “I'm such an idiot.”
“See,” he says grinning smugly, “This is why you never have boyfriends, you’re always late, and you never listen.”
“Oh have you know,” I say defensively, “I'm in a semi-serious relationship, thank you very much.”
He cocks his eyebrows at me with a disbelieving smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, “Uh huh...” he mutters sarcastically, “What's semi-serious' name?”
“Elonzo,” I say firmly, raising my chin in the air.
Beside our bickering, Marie is rolling her eyes and holding onto Maurise, who is jumping up and down in excitement, pulling on her mother’s arm and begging with her to “Please, please, please” see the fishes with her in the aquarium tank on the other side of the room where a small cluster of kids have accumulated.
“Elonzo? That's the best you could come up with,” Huey barks, laughing at me.
“He's real, fat-face. Here,” I pull out my cell phone and go through my numerous friends list and find Elonzo under 'My hunk'a Rican'.I push my cell phone screen into my brothers face and give a “I told you” huff laugh. I push the call button. The phone is picked up after the third ring.
“Hola? Mi salsa dulce?” Elonzo asks.
“Hi hon, my brother doesn't think you exist. Could you speak to him?” I ask in little girl kind of tone.
I push the phone up to Huey's disbelieving face. “Talk to him.” I turn to Marie who is now talking to the owners with a large friendly smile, both are speaking in German. I look around for Maurise and find her looking at the fishes with the other kids.
“Hello? Yes, this is Hubert... yes I'm Gertrude's brother...Gertrude... Gigi?” Huey looks incredulous as he talks to Elonzo. Okay so maybe it is silly that I had never mentioned my full name to Elonzo, but I guess I thought he'd guessed already. “Elonzo? Are you serious?”
I put my hands on my hips and give him an incredulous look, “Don't be offensive,” I hiss at him.
“No, I'm not making fun of you, of course not. I'm just saying that you sound made up... What the... dude, I don't speak hunk'a rican.”
Okay, I digress; my brother’s comment is too funny. I laugh out loud and I know Elonzo hears me, because everyone here hears me. I probably shouldn't have shown my brother my name for Elonzo on my phone. But the way Huey uses it just cracks me up.
“Sorry, no, I'm an older brother... It's my job to insult her boyfriends... oh common, I was joking,” Huey says defensively.
By this time, I know Huey has done some serious damage. I take the phone away giving my brother a half-hearted glare, but an amused smile sneaks out, “El, don't take it too seriously.”
“Your brother is racist,” Elonzo says in his cute emotional way.
“No he's not,” I croon, “He's just stupid.”
Huey pushes me gently, “Shut up.”
I grin at him, “Plus he has this condition that has never really worn off from his middle school years.”
“Oh?” Elonzo asks.
“Yeah, it's called... um... rudesclerosis, it's pretty bad,” I joke, grinning at Huey in a taunting way as he gaps in mock outrage at me.
“Seriously?” Elonzo asks me genuinely.
I gape in disbelief at my boyfriend. How he could think “rudesclerosis” is a real thing, I have no idea. I hope he's pulling my leg. “No, hon, I just made that up. I was joking.”
“Oh...” I can tell the way he trails off that he feels offended.
“You know what,” I laugh, “Forget it, sweetie. Just forget about it. Bye.”
I hang up and look pointedly at my brother. I shake my head. “Racist,” I mutter rolling my eyes.
“Am not,” he exclaims defensively. “Sorry. I didn't think he'd go off like that.”
“Hunk'a Rican?” I ask him incredulously.
“That was all you,” he says shaking his head. He comes up behind Marie and wraps an arm around her, kissing her cheek. He asks her something in German and she nods, pointing to a point across the room.”
“Thanks.” He kisses her again and jerks his head to me, motioning me to follow. “So... have you ever skied before?”
“That's a stupid question,” I point out to him, making him remember the times we went skiing in Colorado when we were younger. In fact, back then I was better than him.
“Right,” he shakes his head and opens a door that opens out into a storage closet with dozens of pairs of skis.
“Wow,” I breathe, looking at the different racks and colors of snow skis. “For a small place, they done good.”
Maurise hops over, jumping up and down, clapping her hands, “Daddy, can I ski? Please, daddy? Please?”
Huey turns around and shakes his head, “Sorry Murray, you’re going to go sledding with Alda.” He points to a small built woman with mousy light brown hair, who couldn't be but three years older than me.
Alda waves to us with a sweet little smile. “Hullo, Maurise, Hubert...” She looks expectantly at me.
“Oh, I'm Gigi,” I reach over and shake her hand, “Nice to meet you.”
She cocks her heard, “English?”
“Oh, sorry,” Huey says and motions to Alda, “Alda can't speak English, but Makayla-” Huey motions to a blond girl with green highlights, “is the resorts translator. She's from Texas.”
“Oh,” I say interestedly. I look over at Makayla who is talking enthusiastically to an older couple, who look about fifty. “Well, it's nice to meet you Alda.”
Huey rolls his eyes at me and then, I think, repeats what I said, but in German. Alda smiles and nods her head. She says something in German to me, and then looks expectantly at Huey. He grits his teeth, narrowing his eyes as if trying to remember something. He says something short to Alda, and she replies by saying the exact thing over again. Huey nods, a look of recognition on his face, “Ah. Alda says, 'It's always good to meet nice people with funny American accents.”
“Oh,” I say, trying to smile kindly at Alda, while figuring out if this was supposed to be a compliment or an insult. I shake my head to dismiss it. “Have you worked here long?” I look expectantly at Huey.
Huey throws back his head in exasperation, “You guys are going to kill me. I don’t know how to say that, Gigi.”
I shrug innocently, trying to read the passive face of Alda. “Sorry… I thought you were the German expert.”
Alda smiles pleasantly and takes Maurise’s hand gently. She says something in German and guides Maurise away to the group of smaller kids.
Maurise turns around and waves to me, “Goodbye, bye, goodbye.”
I wave, grinning, “Have fun.”
“Be good,” Huey calls after her. She nods solemnly and turns back around skipping alongside Alda.
I turn to look at Huey, expecting him to be the control freak he was and give me all of my skiing gear. But he doesn’t, he just puts his hands in his pockets and gives a little elbow wave back and forth, looking into the distance. I follow his gaze and find at the end of it is Marie, smiling and talking in German to one of the workers. I grin and shake my head. I bump him.
He looks at me in confusion and I wiggle my eyebrows up and down teasingly. He bumps me back. “Shut up.”
I giggle and grab a pair of skis, “Are we going to get this show on the road or what?”
He shakes his head, grabbing the skis out of my hands, “Not these, stupid. You need the longer ones.”
“But why?” I whine playfully, grinning.
“Because you need more balance. Your big butt will throw the whole thing off.” I tackle him, giggling. I bring him down unto one of the couches in the main sitting area. He laughs and grabs my wrists, keeping me from hitting him. “What? It’s true.”
“My big butt?” I ask sarcastically, “You’re the one who needs the longer ones, Big Huey,” I taunt.
He pushes me away and gets off the couch, pretending to straighten his shirt with an offended look on his face. “I’m insulted.”
“Good,” I giggle and skip back to the closet and pull out the skis I had picked up in the beginning. “But seriously, are we going to ski or not? I’m bored of just hanging around, watching you watch Marie.”
Pulling my gloves on tighter and fixing my ski’s, I sit on a log made to be a bench. Just a few feet away is the slope, which is huge. A sort of anxious feeling fills my stomach, though I can’t help but be excited at the same time.
I look up, to watch the steam come out my breath. In the shade of the resort, my breath shows up like a small wispy cloud. “Hey,” I say, looking up to see my brother and sister-in-law pulling on their snow things.
They don’t answer, or maybe not hear, distracted with putting on coats properly. I sigh and look around, to admire the other skiers by the slope edge, all getting ready and chatting with each other. Aside from us there were eight other people… yeah, that’s how small the resort is. I know!
All eleven of us are lined up in our own positions on the slope. In order, we’re on the end of the line; on the other end is a single guy. I lean over to try to look at the guy.
He adjusts his sportsy looking skiing goggles, covering like his whole face from the nose up. He definitely looks like the sport type, broad, muscular, and dressed in professional looking snow cloths. He wears an Olympic like helmet and I’m pretty sure that the ski’s he begins to slip on are his own. Dashing, is the only word that would explain him properly.
Beside him is the older couple I saw earlier, who were talking to Makayla inside. They are now joined by a younger woman, who looks like she might be an older daughter. The daughter is maybe around her late twenties or early thirties, that’s my guess. The trio are laughing and smiling, talking enthusiastically, but I can tell that the daughter is only half interested in the conversation.
So, beside them is a guy with scruff on his face and two teens. It looks like he could be a single dad with his two teenagers for maybe school break. The look on his face is half agonized, half fake enthusiasm. I can tell he’s trying to get the two teens to interact with him and enjoy themselves. The two teens, a girl and a boy, are both whispering to each other while raising their cell phones in the air, searching for receptions.
Beside them and right next us is a single woman with an interesting mix of snow cloths. She has a pair dark blue of snow pants, and a bright pink coat that didn’t go at all with the pants. Her gloves, I notice, are two different gloves and she wears a flower print snow hat under her helmet. She looks down the line of people and pulls out a very small pocket notebook and tiny pencil. I watch her with interest, though trying to look like I’m not really watching her. She scribbles something quickly into her notebook and then looks in my direction. I look away quickly and pretend to straighten my gloves again. I glance over at her, and she is looking at me from under her thick eyebrows, her eyes penetrating and quizzical, but she looks down quickly as I look up at her. She accidentally drops her notebook in the snow and I can tell she curses under breath.
I look back over at my own group, wondering what’s taking so long. Marie is arguing in an undertone with Huey.
“What’s the big deal anyway, Marie? It’s not like you’re going to be cold because I don’t have my jacket all the way zipped up,” Huey argues, also under his breath.
“If you don’t zip it up all the way you’re going to get snow in your suit, like you did last time, and then I’m the one who has to listen to you complain about your wet shirt all the way home,” Marie argues in a hiss, pulling on her helmet, while trying to zip Hubert’s jacket up.
He zips it back down to the top of his chest, “Yeah, but it chokes me when it’s zipped all the way up.”
“It’s better than getting cold and wet, though, isn’t it?” Marie argues, zipping it up.
Huey zips it up, “Don’t worry if I get cold, it’s not your jacket.”
“Yeah, but it’s my husband, and I don’t want you being cold,” Marie zips it back up.
Huey groans in frustration and zips it back down, “Don’t worry about me, I’m fine. I’m a guy, I can handle cold.”
“That’s not what you said last night in bed,” Marie hisses, and zips it back up with a new fire in her eyes.
“Yeah, but your feet are a different kind of cold,” Huey says grinning, leaving his zipper alone. I can tell that he has given up the battle.
Marie rolls her eyes, the fire distinguishing in her eyes and temper. She grins and pulls Huey to her lips by the front of his jacket.
They kiss and then pull away, going back to putting their gloves on. I shake my head, the knot in my stomach becoming stronger with this show of love and marriage, only reminding me that I really just don’t understand love.
I clap my hands and stand up on my ski’s, unbalanced, “Well, are we ready?”
Huey looks at me with flushed cheeks, “Yeah, we’re the first to go down the slope.”
I frown in confusion, “First?”
He nods, “The people who run the resort think it’s safer for people to go one at a time, so that it’s less likely for anyone to get hurt.” I raise my eyebrows incredulously, looking at the wide span of open slope and snow. “Yeah I know,” Huey says looking at my expression with a grin, “That’s exactly how I reacted too.” He laughs and tucks his homemade scarf into his all the way zipped up coat.
Marie comes up to me and fixes the cuffs of my coat, in a motherly way, which warms my heart. “Don’t listen to him; he thought it was a good idea when he found out.” She grins at me and rolls her eyes
He pretends not to listen. He looks over his shoulder to a point right over my head then smiles pleasantly, as if greeting someone.
I look around to see what he’s looking at and see the girl Makayla walking up in a snow suite. Her straight blond hair flutters around her face and around her shoulders, from underneath her pink snow hat. “Hey you guys,” she says, and I can so totally tell she’s from Texas from her accent. She walks closer and comes to stand beside me, “Y’all can go ahead now.” She notices me and holds out her hand, “Howdy, I’m Makayla.”
“Gigi,” I say shaking her hand. Her shake is firm and strong. I already know I like her and I’m certain if I go to the resort often, we’ll be friends, “pleased to meet you.”
I can see in her face that she likes me too, and I guess that’s the beginning of our friendship. “Same.” She gives us a small salute, “Y’all have fun.”
Huey salutes Makayla in return and then offers his arm to Marie, helping her into position in her ski’s on the edge of the slope.
I grab my skiing sticks and shuffle forward about seven feet away from Marie and wait, waving my arms around in the air for balance. I look over at Huey as he positions himself on the other side of Marie. “You wanna go first?” I call out to him.
He shrugs, “Okay, then Marie will go a minute or two after me, and then you can go.”
“Okay,” I nod and patiently wait, my stomach writhing as I look down the steep slope. It’s like the climb on the roller coaster, where you know that you’re going to drop fast and you’re not sure if you want to be on the roller coaster anymore. I watch as Huey sets off with his skiing sticks stuck out behind him as he slides down without a problem. He gets halfway down the hill and then Marie sets out, sliding, gliding gracefully down the slope, here and there balancing herself with her ski sticks.
I give a shaky breathe, my stomach knotted so tightly I wonder if I should step back and wait for them to come back up so we can leave. But no, I’m determined to have fun. I push off, and the feeling is absolutely invigorating! The cold air on my face, the thrill, the speed. I feel free, like I could fly. Everything feels familiar, yet foreign, comfortable, yet nerve-wracking… But I feel alive, I feel like I belong, it feels right.