There’s a reason people travel from all over the world, spend ludicrous amounts of money on real estate if they have it or work shitty jobs if they don’t, just to live in a resort town. Sure, skiing powder is amazing, but skiing alone does not compel normal people to quit good jobs, leave loving relationships, and become seasonal pizza makers in small mountain towns. There’s something else at play: the pull of what I call The Bubble.
The Bubble is a feeling. It’s a slowed-down reality, a suspended equilibrium, a simplification and reprioritization of life. In The Bubble, conversation doesn’t have to get any deeper than today’s snow report. The most pressing thing on the agenda is making the tram opening and choosing which happy hour to attend. Every conversation starts with “Have you gotten out on the hill?” and ends with “Let’s ski soon.” Is it self-indulgent? Yes. Is it escapism? Without a doubt. Is it awesome? Absolutely.
In places like Whistler and Jackson and Alta and Telluride, politics really matter only in cases of resort expansion and marijuana reform, and big local issues tend to stay somewhere between wildlife control and tourist taxation. The police reports in my mountain town are so whimsical and hilarious that they were published as a book. It’s Mayberry on ice.
It’s not that bad things don’t exist when you live in The Bubble. They’re just way easier to ignore when the powder is deep and life is good. The worst things—North Korea, drone strikes, the band Creed—can wait until spring. We’ll deal with them after the snow melts.
In The Bubble, sexual orientation, religion, age, and social position all play second fiddle to skiing. Have you ever seen an elderly transvestite shredding on a monoski? Me neither, but I bet she’d fit right in. Which brings up another point: It’s funny how resort towns that cater to the rich, powerful, and extremely conservative frequently host things like Gay Ski Week or Marley in the Mountains. It’s like Republicans forget to be dicks when they get some elevation. How cool is that?
There aren’t many ugly people in The Bubble. I saw a bellhop in Whistler last year who could’ve been a Calvin Klein model with his golden locks and panty-dropping Australian accent. A waitress in Jackson, a Kate Hudson with a goggle tan, had me stuttering. And that’s not even counting the real models and actresses. It just sucks for them that people like me are there, uglying the place up.
Once you’ve had a taste of life in The Bubble, it’s hard to imagine living in reality. There are worse things than happiness, health, and the pursuit of powder. Living in the mountains is a richer life. By surrounding ourselves with pleasure, youth, wealth, and beauty, the shitty stuff ceases to matter. And that’s why some of us get stuck. Call me the Boy in The Bubble.