Ohhhhhhyeeeeaaaahhh… it was ME that disappeared, huh? Well, I suppose I’m a smidge overdue in the update department, so here goes…
Yes, I am in fact still alive. Still paraly… wait, quick check – yup, still paralyzed. I’ve been staying pretty healthy, thanks for all the e-mails. Those main questions having been answered naturally beg the question: how’s the book coming along? Well, I’m only a few chapters short of my masterpiece… say 30 or so. Well, I’m about three quarters of the way toward starting it. Translation? You betcha — it’s still in my head, but trust me it sounds AWESOME in there. It’s been a rough year in the literary department. Come to think of it, the year has been a bit of a roller coaster as a whole.
For some reason, lap number four of this crazy journey called paralysis started off as one of the most difficult for me thus far. Maybe part of it was turning 27; the same age my parents were when they had me. You see, when I was little my parents were my gauge for all things “grown-up” because they were so freakin tall… and because my dad was in charge of the remote. I remember when I was about six, I and asked my mom if, when I turned 33, I could say the words I had heard Dad saying in the garage earlier and she said, “Yes, when you’re 33 years old, you can.” So by little kid logic, I naturally assumed that by the time I was 27, I would have it all figured out. Well, as you can imagine, this wasn’t quite where I pictured myself at 27, so it was a little tough. Also, there was a little event in May that proved to be a major speed bump for me.
As many of you already know, I made headlines for something other than this little corner of cyberspace I’ve inhabited the last few years. A quick Google of my name no longer results in links to my blog and a few old wrestling match scores, but countless newsfeeds and press releases with words like “lawsuit” and “terrain parks” and “millions.” Unfortunately, halfpage press releases and thirty-second news blurbs only have the capacity to tell a fraction of the story, inevitably leading the average reader who doesn’t know me with an image of a reckless, inexperienced skier that screwed up and became sue-happy… even though that couldn’t be further from the truth. Needless to say, I instantly became Public Enemy #1 in the eyes of many skiers and snowboarders, and my inboxes and comments sections started filling up with hate mail.
I have to say that, initially, those messages really started to take their toll, and I found myself second-guessing things quite a bit. Were they right? Am I just some hypocrite out to ruin the sport? After all, as one of them so kindly pointed out, I did once write that I would go back to that jump and “do it right.” I struggled with this for much longer than I probably should have because the truth of the matter is, I wrote that before I found out just how horribly designed that jump truly was, which led to more than triple the amount of serious injuries of any of the previous few seasons, all within only two months of being open that year. And while I readily accepted my share of the responsibility for what happened to me, I cannot accept that, after a hand delivered a letter from a friend I was with that night imploring the mountain to reassess their terrain park went ignored, a 19-year-old kid from my alma mater lost his life barely a week later.
The way I see it, I don’t think it is too much to ask a business making millions if not billions of dollars, of which a fairly decent percentage is from these terrain parks, to spend a marginal amount of time and money to develop at least some sort of basic industry standard that could apply some basic physics and a little common sense in order to cut down on the UNNECESSARY RISKS riders face from poorly built parks. Skiing into a tree and getting hurt is one thing, just like falling off a cliff out of bounds is another, but when it is on something intentionally put in place that is being profited from, that’s completely different.
Every industry does this… or maybe we should stop putting laminated windshields in cars, put a little disclaimer sticker in the corner, and tell the ones ejected that it was their fault that they got into the accident? It’s the same thing as arguing the fine print on a lift ticket serves as a blanket of impunity. And sure, you could probably argue that maybe I should’ve known better, but what about those who don’t? What about the next 12-year-old kid who’s never rode who just got done watching Shaun White win his 17th-some-odd X-Games medal that goes bombing down the hill and gets himself killed? In some way, I can understand that my accident had to happen, but not that 19-year-old kid… sorry, I can’t justify that. Even if I never see a dime, which is a distinct possibility, I won’t regret my accident or the lawsuit because it at least has caught the attention of the industry, and could possibly save even a couple kids from being in my place.
On a completely different note, I did conquer my first substantial road trip in the fall; a two week vacay in Southern California (starting with a three-day van-trek with Mad Dog and the Italian Drama Mama. I know… how I managed to survive is a minor miracle. Kidding, Margie, only kidding) to see a ton of family, most importantly of which, two of my absolute favorite people on the face of the damn planet… my Grandpa Ed and Grandma Betty. According to Betty, 80 is the new 60, but 15 minutes around those lovebirds and you’ll swear it’s the new 19. We should all be so lucky in love. Their five-acre corner of the desert in 29 Palms will always hold a piece of my soul, and as soon as we turned on their dirt road I could feel that familiar swell in my chest because on this particular block of dust, being a Salvini means something truly special, and is the only thing that matters. Grandpa would probably refer to it as Italian (pronounced: “eye-talion”) Pride. God, I love that man, and am so proud that it’s his blood that courses through my veins.
I don’t know, I think part of the reason this year has been more of a struggle than prior years was the sudden realization that I’ve been in a bit of denial over my whole situation. I think subconsciously I’ve been biding my time somewhat, waiting for some arbitrary time in the future for life to start back up. But when exactly is that? When I get better? That’s about the furthest thing from guaranteed. This is my life. This body. This brain. This wheelchair. Right here. Right now. But where and how exactly do I start living it? That is the true question, and that’s what I need to start figuring out. All I know is that 2007 ended on a fairly positive note, so for right now I intend on riding the crest of that wave as far as I possibly can. I mean, look at it this way: only a little more than five years until I can legally use the phrase motherfuckingpieceofshit.
So I’ve got that going for me… which is nice.