A Ski Bum Looks at 30

When I originally wrote this Editor’s Note for Issue 149, I named it “A Ski Bum Looks at 30.” This was a tribute to Jimmy Buffett’s “A Pirate Looks at 40”, which reflects on the life of a dried up sailor, born two centuries too late to explore the high seas. During the many rounds of editing, I was convinced to change the title, and for good reason. “A Pirate Looks at 40” is a deep cut, known mostly to Parrot Heads like my parents. Plus, there was already a song referenced in the article and the final draft wasn’t about regrets. It was about new beginnings.

In honor of Jimmy Buffett’s recent passing, I listened to “A Pirate Looks at 40” and was struck by one line: “Still could manage to smile. Just takes a while, just takes a while.” Perhaps I originally misunderstood what Jimmy was saying. “A Pirate Looks at 40” isn’t just a ballad of youthful regrets. It’s also about healing with time, gaining perspective through age and opening up to new beginnings. —Betsy Manero

Betsy Manero watches Izzy Lazarus ride to white pastures on Wyoming’s Teton Pass. [Photo] Shannon Corsi

In September 2015, Izzy Lazarus and I left our college dorms in Vermont and headed for the Rocky Mountains. A lack of sleep, about five dozen plays of the song “One Day Baby We’ll Be Old” and a shoulder injury later, our trip was over. Izzy rerouted to Colorado’s San Juans, and I went to Jackson, Wyoming.

Our lives figure-eighted through craggy granite peaks and sandstone deserts. She drove through the night to hit a spring corn cycle with me in Grand Teton National Park; I trekked to Moab, Utah, for autumn crack climbing. Eventually, Izzy moved to Jackson and rented her first apartment in years. I had moved over to the west side of the range by this time but had a habit of sleeping on her pullout futon when Teton Pass was closed. For years, we’ve made it a tradition to get out together for our first tour of the winter.

This November, as we skinned along the frigid Mail Cabin Creek, we talked about the future. Instead of being unkempt, messy-haired car dwellers, Izzy and I are both renovating houses. I work at a computer. Izzy is slowly planning her wedding and contemplating a move back to where it all started in Vermont, which could make this our last first tour together.

To say I’m sad my best friend of almost a decade is leaving me is an understatement. Izzy taught me how to drink my coffee black and sort dirty clothes while living in a car. When we went into the mountains together, she showed me women could collaborate, not compete.  She called me to ask if she should buy an engagement ring to propose to her now-fiancé; I called her to ask if I should quit guiding to become a magazine editor.

While Izzy retracing our steps back East might be the end of one era, it’s the beginning of another, just like when we started anew merging onto I-80 West in 2015. The next chapter promises both good and bad, including long FaceTime calls and cross-country flights to see each other. But there will also be a different kind of freedom from the one we had in our early 20s. Just like the annual spring settling of the snowpack, Izzy and I have found stability. Instead of chasing adventures on a budget and scrounging gear from the discount bin, we both live in comfort as we approach our dirty 30s. Part of growing up and leaving behind that freewheeling ski bum lifestyle is having enough in our bank accounts to book airfare between Jackson Hole and Burlington. And, if the quality of powder we found on our first tour of the year is any indication, Izzy and I will have plenty of perfect tours in the future.

This Editor’s Note was originally published in Issue No. 149, The Evolution Issue. To read more, pick up a copy, or subscribe to read stories like these as soon as they are published in print.

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  1. Please please go back to east coast, you easterners are like a plague upon western lands.

    • You better have native blood with a comment like that, poser.

      • Of course you east coasties don’t realize the damage you do or that NY, Texans, SoCal are getting despised by the people actually from here because you buy up everything and drive out people born here, you poser.

    • Betsy Manero says:

      Jamie, while you’re welcome to express opinions on our website, repeated insults are not welcome. Calling myself and other contributors a plague, transplants or a detriment to American guiding will no longer be tolerated. If you continue to insult our writers by questioning their right to live where they live, we will remove your commenting privileges.

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