Collingwood, Ontario - Grace has never been my strong suit. An unsightly array of bruises, broken limbs and 4-inch-long scars are the fruits of my fundamental lack of coordination.
Strangers in pool halls have commented with awe on my total lack of finesse with a cue. Even my husband couldn't resist remarking one day, while watching me struggle through a Pilates video, "You need more grace!"
But for better or for worse, my hyperactive clumsy gene has never stopped me from pushing the limits. Which is why, a few weeks ago, I head to Blue Mountain with my husband to embark on the ultimate test to my balance: snowboarding.
I know the odds are against me. I've never skateboarded or surfed. On skis I rank among the world's best snowplowers. Yet I still hope to ride the board.
Unfortunately, too much time to think during the car ride from Toronto to Collingwood starts to melt my resolve. I have a sweaty flashback of my first - and almost last - attempt at boarding a few years ago atop a mammoth mountain in Whistler, BC.
After a hasty lesson from a friend and experienced snowboarder, we began doing S-turns down the mountain, when suddenly he let go of me and encouraged me to "Keep going!" I kept going, all right, bounding along at full throttle on my rear, arms flailing as I shrieked, wondering when my life would flash before my eyes.
Directly in my path stood an unassuming skier posing for a photograph. Despite all my noise, she didn't see me until it was too late. While we both emerged relatively unscathed, I'm not sure I can say the same for my psyche.
I push this dark episode out of my mind as my husband and I reach the new Village at Blue, an old-Ontario-inspired cluster of restaurants and shops. I'm reassured that it will be his first time as well, though I wonder how long it will be before he starts pretending he doesn't know me.
Out on the bunny hill, we meet our instructor, Greg, a sprightly guy in his mid-20s who'll be teaching us and two other beginners for the next hour and a half. He shows us how to use the non-strapped-in leg to glide across the snow. Before long, my left calf, startled awake after long disuse, starts to ache, and I silently curse my on-again, off-again relationship with my gym.
With a few main moves under our belts, we ride the lift to the top of the hill. My two left feet strapped into the snowboard, I watch Greg demonstrate how to do proper S-turns: how to shift your weight, position your body and swivel yourself just so.
It sounds easy enough, and after all, if the eight-year-olds zooming past me can manage it, why can't I?
But my wobbly knees have a different opinion, and over the next hour, my butt becomes intimately familiar with every groove on the hill.
By morning's end, I've stopped veering wildly down the slope like Jim Carrey on speed and started getting the hang of the swivel-glide formula, staying vertical long enough to do three or four S-turns. My spastic manoeuvres become more composed and refined, and my choppy stretches down the hill much more fluid. Finally, my mind and body, like warring factions in a labour dispute, strike an accord. For a few fleeting moments, I relax, take in the sunshine and just coast.
I emerge from the lesson only slightly battered and bruised, and acutely aware of many long-neglected muscles that will take their revenge over the next couple of days. While I haven't won the war against my clumsiness, at least for one winter morning some semblance of grace is mine.