The Outsider: Do all Dragons go to heaven?
That’s not as dumb as it sounds. Or maybe it is, but either way I’ve spent the past few days mourning the death of my Dragons: the black, white and gold sunglasses that managed to survive six full years of snowboarding, SUPing, rafting, camping, the driver’s seat, Rockies games, downtown Denver, taxi rides after dark, a few road trips and just about anything else I could throw at them. Even when I lost them — twice, actually — the Dragons came back the very next day. The Dragons came back for they couldn’t stay away.
Still, yeah, maybe I’m weirdly distraught over the loss of sunglasses. But, if you’ve ever owned a piece of gear that outlasted its lifespan, I hope you know what I’m talking about. Even if not, smart people always told me to write what I know, and right now I know that I can’t believe my Dragons died on a mint spring day at Arapahoe Basin. Like, probably the best day I’ve had at the Basin all season.
Funny thing is, it started with a creepy bit of foreshadowing from my roommate when he mentioned he never wears his good sunglasses out riding. He didn’t say it to me or anyone else — it was more of an observation, really. I told him I don’t either, except for when my supply of snowboarding sunglasses (aka cheap Ray-Ban knockoffs) is running unusually low, just like it was that day at the tail end of a long season. All I had left were Eagle County Paramedic Services frames and they were in my car, not his. Oops. Besides, I’ve worn the Dragons plenty of times on the hill. They even survived 10 hours worth of Vail on closing day going back and forth between my face and knee pocket.
Who knows, maybe my roommate’s observation is why the Dragons are dead and gone. They were an object after all, and the universe has a funny way of playing jokes at the expense of objects. Or maybe I’m trained to see foreshadowing. Or maybe I’m overthinking this whole “death of a sunglasses” thing.
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Either way, it was the only sunny day of the week when we pulled up at 1:30 p.m. The snow had just turned to the sort of pliable, corny slush that makes spring riding a blast, and the thunderclouds were hanging tight over Red and Buffalo out west. We took Pali chair (sadly my first of the season) for a few top-to-bottom laps, from West Wall to the park to Wrangler and back to Pali, with so many spring side hits in between. It was the best kind of Monday workout.
On the first run, though, we were surprised to see that Wrangler is still a solid sheet of snow, with none of the slush pits you can see this time of year. (No wonder A-Basin extended the season to June 5 — at least.) It made buttering the flat fun at first, then kind of boring, and so we kicked it up a notch after two runs.
That’s when it happened. I carried plenty of speed from the base of Black Mountain chair into the flat to mess around with one of my favorite combos, plus the 360 melon-to-tail press I saw some kid do on Instagram. I got it the first time and went for the same combo fakie, because, like wearing the Dragons on a stunning spring day, why not?
I remember pressing, popping, and then watching the topsheet between my bindings, rather than the tail and horizon. I caught my heel edge and got tossed, glasses over forehead, to land directly on top of the damn things.
So. I was tempted to pick them up and put them in my pocket, maybe take them home to build a shrine or something. (More likely, they’d sit unnoticed on a table or in a drawer or never leave the knee pocket.) And what about the memories? Six years with the same glasses, man, and all I have to show for it now is a shattered frame in about six pieces. Funny joke, universe.
But a drawer or desktop is no place for dead Dragons. After pouting and squinting at the snow for a bit, I did the appropriate thing and buried them in the snow. Maybe this summer I’ll go back, and, if I can find the pieces, throw them in the trash.
I’m still mourning the loss, but for a whopping $75 those Dragons more than outlived their life expectancy. They gave me one hell of a return on my investment and I should be happy they lasted this long. I am.
Besides, it might be time for goggles again anyway, at least for another few days. There’s a storm rolling through this weekend and I’m sure A-Basin will be legitimately good, not just spring good. But, I think I’ll toss on those Eagle County Paramedic frames and make the slushy drive to Denver. My mom recently told me that my childhood dog is about to die after 15 (maybe 16?) good years. I doubt if the drive will be a hassle heading east in late-April, even in a spring storm, and there’s always next winter. At least for the snow and me.
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