When you hear the phrase "winter romance," what comes to mind? Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Walking in a winter wonderland? Regardless, I'd bet you an entire stocking full of coal that you're not picturing a couple sledding down a giant hill, before splitting off into different directions and ending up with snow in their crotches! Alas, if you're brainstorming winter date ideas, I'd like to take a stab at pitching this very cringeworthy image. Why? Well, somehow, sledding ended up being my most romantic date of 2018 — and with a little bit effort and a whole lot of luck, it can be yours, too!
Now, I didn't always equate sledding with romance. Sure, there were those couples that could gracefully mount a sled, straddle one another, and take off down the mountain. But that was never me — no, I was the person waiting at the bottom that the couple always crashed into, sending them flying off their sled. Then again, I had never attempted to go sledding with a romantic interest before last winter. I just knew in my gut that no matter what, It would be a disaster: I am uncoordinated enough to ruin virtually any sporting event, even one as uncompetitive and as lighthearted as toboggan.
It began with a simple invite: My college roommate decided to have a group of us up to her family's farmhouse for a long weekend. My partner had been recovering from the flu, and made the last-minute decision to attend; I was overjoyed! About eight of us packed up a couple cars, and took a road trip to the Catskills. Somehow, based on a random assortment of RSVPs, the majority of the attendees ended up being couples. Temperatures might have been below freezing, but the weekend was off to a steamy start.
When we arrived upstate, we were greeted by a beautiful blanket of snow. This snow was thick AF, you guys — I'm a frolicker by nature, but this powder was almost too deep for even me to dare step in. So, we decided to take our activities indoors. We played competitive card games, and watched random VHS tapes that my roommate's parents had stored in her house, like the original Jumanji. After drinking warm beers, participating in a planking competition (proud to say I killed it, y'all), and almost ruining friendships over a particularly sneaky game of Settlers Of Catan, we came to a singular resolution: It was time to go outside. We bundled up in our warmest layers — puffer coats, scarves, gloves — and braved the great outdoors.
There was only one problem: I hadn't packed snow boots. I know, I know — what the hell was I thinking? I guess I had just assumed that if my black patent Chelsea boots could fare well on the slushy streets of Manhattan, then I'd be fine in the woods. But I was so, so wrong. These boots had absolutely zero grip support, so I was slipping and sliding as if the ground was made of ice. I could barely walk on a flat surface, let alone uphill. I braced myself for an unpleasant afternoon.
We split up into couples and claimed sleds. My partner and I scored a nice, rhombus hunk of plastic. We nestled ourselves onboard, and patiently waited our turn. I watched as my friends one by one took the plunge downhill, some immediately jetting in the wrong direction, fumbling off their sleds and into the snow. The image of each couple transforming into a tiny, chaotic speck had my stomach in stitches.
When it was our turn, I grabbed on tightly to my partner's waist, held my breath, and propelled the sled forward. Our actual descent went swell: We reached the bottom of the mountain with little turbulence, like Olympic bobsledders! But the real challenge came when I looked up and realized just how far down we had actually plummeted. My friends and their partners felt lightyears away. I suddenly found myself contemplating living at the bottom of that summit forever.
After about five minutes of watching me try to climb uphill, only to slip and slide all the way back down on my belly, my partner had had enough. "Why on Earth did you wear those shoes?" He groaned, fully knowing my answer as he asked. "They're fashun!" I flipped my hair jovially and he let out a snort. "All right," he sighed, admitting defeat. "Get in the sled."
I re-boarded and hung on to both sides of the sled with my life. "Are you sure?" I asked, but he had already turned around. Gripping both ends of the rope in each hand, he began to march his way back up the mountain, pulling the sled vis a vis me along with him. Grunting like the Hulk, he slowly tore uphill. I was seriously impressed. I was having a great time! I felt like Santa Claus! "This is the most romantic thing you've ever done for me!" I exclaimed with glee. "Iman," he said. "Please stop talking."
I truly couldn't fathom the fact that my partner was willing to lug my body weight up what was essentially a steep cliff! As much as I despise the anti-feminist trope of a man coming to a woman's rescue, he truly felt like my knight in shining armor (or rather, flannel). No matter how treacherous it felt, my partner continued to trudge along, pulling me behind him. He didn't even complain or try to make me feel guilty about selecting the wrong footwear. Believe it or not, this isn't even some sort of metaphor about our relationship: The mountain was literally an obstacle we needed overcome together. It was all happening IRL! I was scared for my life, but I was swooning. It was so cold, and yet, so very hot.
When we finally reached our destination, the rest of the couples erupted in applause. My partner gladly accepted the "Boyfriend Of The Year" award bestowed upon him by our friends. "So," My roommate looked up with a cheeky grin. "Who wants to go again?"
And so we did. My partner and I spent the rest of that day cascading downhill, and trudging back up, over and over again. We enjoyed the carefree descent, and braved the difficult climb back up, as a team. When we were on thin ice, we slid as a unit. And when we made progress, we did so together.
My relationship isn't perfect. Sometimes, one of us literally has to carry the weight of the other, and vice-versa. But no matter what, I know in my heart that my partner always has my back — on and off the slopes.