My hands are wet and aching with cold after my first day of skiing of the season. Walking back from the mountain through the parking lot, I pass two snowboarders in their early twenties. I hear the excitement in their transplanted New England accents as they make their way to the lifts for their first runs in the Sierras. I remember once sharing that excitement for winter in Tahoe. Now, I am excited just to get some warmth back into my hands. I turn my car’s heater to the maximum.
I leave Squaw Valley and arrive back in Tahoe City. I’m the only car waiting at the stoplight. I wait anyway as I have at this four-way intersection for thirty years, and I feel as though I am waiting for something to change other than the color red. The light turns green and I proceed slowly north on the one road that encircles Lake Tahoe.
I stop at the small Tahoe City post-office on my way home. I try to remain anonymous, but Peter, my best friend’s father sees me as soon as I enter the door. We talk about the weather, skiing, and my acupuncture practice. “Can you help me to get this left arm up over my head?” he asks, grimacing in his attempt. Upon leaving, I am stopped again, this time by my old high school teacher. “I’ve been meaning to see you about my lower back. I’m hurting and I need to get it strong for the season. I’ll call you about a treatment.”
Today, I ‘ve had no calls. I try to see the positives in this –the skiing, and the freedom. Still, the voice in my head, and my bank account remind me that though I love this place, I am stagnating here.
I arrive home to my apartment. The November days are short and the sun is beginning to set behind the Sierra crest. I notice the sky and decide to use my time for something creative. The wind has calmed as I walk alone onto Tahoe Tavern pier. The alpenglow casts an orange-pink reflection on the water. I snap a few shots before the colors fade and the sky turns grey. My hands are numb with cold.
On my return, I pass an older woman I don’t know. She sees my camera and asks, “Did you get some pictures of that sunset? I nod. “We’re sure lucky to be able to live here,” she says walking away.
It begins to snow, and I realize that tomorrow I have no patients.
I tell myself that I need to leave this place. That it is too small, and too limiting. There is a decision to be made about what exactly I will become. For now I wait. I think of my apartment, my cold hands and a warm fireplace. I hope that the fresh snow will bring a new beginning, one with excitement, and one that can reveal the answers I am seeking.