ski gear with a retro look, vintage feel, die hard attitude.

Chapter 7 & 8 – Heartbreak, Homelessness, and Ocean Front Property

Ups and downs are the theme for this part of the story – ups, downs, and extremes. I don’t think that I deserve any type of credit for doing what I am doing – it’s what I love and believe in. But I like to think that being able to overcome adversity as it is presented to you not only defines you as a person but leads to success in the end.

March started off with the EWSRA Expo in Edison, NJ. It was nice to finally have something close to home and mid-week to occupy our time. Before we got there I’m not going to lie, I was a bit intimidated. All the major players where there presenting their lines for next season – North Face, Mountain Hardware, Shred – all had something to offer… just not anything like what we were putting on the market. We walked out with a new sense of – we can really do this – we were up.

We still had events to sponsor too with the entire month being booked up in Pennsylvania and Vermont. We started out up at the second mogul comp at Blue Mountain. It was a good test because Blue saw us before we really had a collection. This time around we had our catalog and tshirts to present and it was well received, very well received. After that we took a road trip up through Vermont and hit every ski shop we could find along the way. We came home gas poor (literally ran out of gas on the Mass Pike on the way back to NJ – thank you AAA) and with 5 new shops – bitter sweet.

After that though we started to tumble, well – I started to tumble.

I had been living with my girlfriend at the time and thought things were great. She obviously did not. I guess I didn’t see it. I’m sorry for the cliche but love is blind isn’t it? And I was unable to see what was right in front of me. She came home one night from work – and after a fight we had over dinner she told me she wanted me to move out. I was too exhausted to fight for it anymore. I guess she got tired of me, tired of my dream, and tired of waiting for my bank account to have more than a 3 digit sum in it – just tired.

I moved my stuff out the next day before she got home. It was over, and I was once again houseless. My lack of an address or key to an apartment was overshadowed by the fact that I had just lost the girl I loved. I moved onto my best friends couch, again, and proceeded to go on a 2 week bender paying no attention to anything else other than my bar tab and trying to forget about her.

Why is it that whenever you go through a break up everyone wants to take you out and feed you shots? Maybe the next one will take the hurt away? In my case the next one only made it hurt worse.

I was at a cross roads. My parents wanted me to move home to Memphis, I did not want to leave my business back in New Jersey, overseeing operations from 1,000 miles away. I booked a ticket to Cleveland to stay with my brother. Half way home and back to some normalcy. Then out of the blue I got a phone call from my buddy Mike: “Hey Ryan, I was talking about it with Christina and we wanted to know if you wanted to move in with us for the summer. We know how much this business means to you and we don’t want to see all the work you’ve put in go to waste.”

It was done – 3 days later I had all my stuff in the back of the truck and I was off to live on a beach for the next 4 months. It was the first time since September that I could settle in, sit on a bed that was mine, take a deep breath, and just experience a sense of relief.

Back to stability, back to focus, back to business… I had left a career, lost a girlfriend I loved, and had $27 to my name. But I had gained new perspective on friendship, sacrifice, and life in general.

I was ready to get back to the Ryan who started Ski Till I Die with the passion and energy and intensity that makes even the most pessimistic individuals believe. Losing my girlfriend hurt more than anything else – everything up to that point was easy for me, That wasn’t. But sometimes you have to define the moment before it defines you… this was one of those circumstances and that’s exactly what I did.

See: Journey – Don’t Stop Believing – The summer chapters come next week just in time for the 4th of July weekend. Until then, cheers!

Ryan

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