The Memories of Dad We All Want to Have

When I was 3, my parents tried to plop me into a ski resort day care so the three of them could explore the mountain, but apparently I refused to sit around rearranging blocks with those other babies. My mom tried unsuccessfully to position me between her legs and launch me onto my own skis, pulling me up again and again as I plunked my butt onto the snow instead of attempting a turn. After an exhausting hour, she escaped with my brother while my dad and I languished on the bunny hill, trying to advance me past the snowplow. Dad would ski backwards in front of me, holding my tiny skis into a V-shape, until, finally, I managed to put my skis side by side and pivot on the snow. When my dad tells this story, he throws his arms in the air and launches into my tiny kid voice: “Daddy! I can ski!”

A few years later, I was accompanying him on black diamond runs with moguls as tall as me. When goggled adults riding high above us on the chairlift pointed at me in awe (or else at my father in disgust), I got a rush that sustained me until the bottom of the hill, where my dad would remove my mittens and breathe warmth into them before fitting them back on my pink hands. I didn’t know to feel lucky to be a little girl with a father who took her along on all of his adventures. I just liked that I could keep up with my dad.

Amanda Hess, in Slate, on adventures with her dad.

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Photo: Amanda Hess