Six people: the maximum capacity for a bench on the ski lift in the small mountain town my friends and I visited for Octoberfest this past weekend. Our group consisted of two couples and me, and given that the sum of our bodies allowed for a one-person buffer between us and what I imagined would be a macabre, weight-driven tragedy, I had never been more ecstatic to play the role of fifth wheel.
We excitedly jumped on board but soon morphed into jittery hot messes once we reached the specific altitude of the mountain in which shit officially gets real. We got stuck for a moment and dangled and whined and sweated and prayed and got ready, basically, to die.
I tried to take comfort in the family-like closeness of our group—clinging to the dark thought that at least we’d all go down together—and it almost helped, but just for a moment.
“You guys, we’re only freaking out because this is like, the ultimate loss of control,” I heard my friend say from across the bench. “We have to trust that we’re not gonna fall. Why is it so hard to let go and believe that the people who constructed this thing knew what they were doing?”
“My balls are actually in my throat right now, so,” I replied, apropos of nothing and everything, and didn’t finish.
I could continue with a play-by-play of the hyperventilating and melodramatic rambling and meaning-of-life thought spiraling that ensued on my part, but I won’t. Instead I’ll just say that eventually I accepted that whether or not I freaked out, the outcome of this experience wouldn’t change. Like a lot of things, it was entirely out of our hands.
So I exhaled, the lift picked up again, and tragedy didn’t strike. And I realized that (one) friendship is everything, and (two) mountains are beautiful when seen from the safe distance of the bottom, but the views from the top are un-fucking-believable.