One of the first times I knew Tim was “the one” was while lying in a snow ditch with tears streaming down my face.
It was 2004 and we were in St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria. I was meeting Tim and several friends there for a ski vacation. I had just arrived and without wasting any time, we hit the slopes. It had just dumped a TON of snow and my east-coast self had never really skied deep powder. Or a bigger mountain than Killington, VT. Immediately I knew this was a whole ‘nother ballgame. Tim guided me down what I now know was pretty challenging terrain. My skinny, decidedly anti-powder boards kept sinking and I couldn’t link more than two turns without wiping out or losing a ski.
I was tired, jet-lagged, frustrated and embarrassed. I was supposed to be a decent skier!
Throughout the run, Tim kept pushing, pushing, pushing. Try this, do that, turn like this, transfer your weight like that. A stream of advice flowed from him and he seemed totally confident that I could do it all. Didn’t he realize that I was melting down?!
As we neared the end of the run, there was a short, flat run out to the main trail. But there was also a big dip. Tim went first and easily came out the other side. Not so much for me. Not only did I hit that dip, I also hit the deck. Total yard sale — skis and poles everywhere. And then the tears started flowing from sheer exhaustion and frustration. I had a full-on pity party sitting in that little hole.
Once he realized I wasn’t coming out the other side, Tim pushed his way over to help me. We were a relatively new couple, and I was expecting some good old-fashioned coddling and sympathy. Nope. He took one look at me and started laughing — not in a mean or condescending way, but in an “oh, I know that feeling — now get up and let’s go laugh about it at aprés — you’ll get it next time” sort of way.
It was at that moment, through my tears and stereotypical girly expectations, that I realized this is what I wanted in a boyfriend/maybe husband. I didn’t need someone to wipe my tears away. But I did need someone who would always push me to be my best self.
To this day, sports and fitness are a big part of our relationship. We like to joke that we would’ve dumped each other if we had found out that the other didn’t like to ski, or hike, or play tennis, or whatever. Some of our best conversations (and arguments) take place on the chair lift, we bond over tennis strategy, and we learn new things about each other during hikes.
And to this day, we still strive to push each other. Just the other week, we were doing a challenging ridge hike and I got big-time vertigo and started freaking out. Instead of getting frustrated, he insisted that I walk in front of him. Not so that he could bug me to hurry up, but so that he could chat about random, funny things to distract me and calm my nerves.
Not every couple will share a love of sports and fitness, and that’s OK. But there is something special about finding a passion that you can share, where you spend quality time pushing and coaching each other through challenging situations. For us, that’s sports and fitness. It’s no wonder that eight years after my Austrian meltdown that we got married … on a ski slope, of course.