Saturday, August 4
With familiarity comes ownership, connection, a sense of place tied to self and of self tied to place. We are knotted to the land, to the rocks - and they to us. We are grounded in our flight across these most familiar trails; with all the miles has come the belief that these trails, lakes, vistas are our own. They are our own, we say, a secret sanctuary. A temple for going and finding and collecting our peace: alpine meadows and icy blue-green lakes; steep and technical trails; granite massifs and glacial bowls. These are the places that center me, catch and hold and support my breath. These vistas are the secret of which I try not to speak, for which I'll attempt - unfailingly failing - to hold my tongue. For which I perpetually wait until once more I can find myself so surrounded. The spirit catches us, and so forth.
Exactly a year ago I found myself a chapter closing, a question mark of another chapter beginning; the comma between was a transition in sitting still, returning to a city I'd once called home and now only somewhat, in shadows, recognized. I embraced the weariness I was not yet quite ready to let go, held off recovery and healing just that one week or two longer: What had been home was no longer home and what was to become home hadn't quite arrived, at least not yet in my mind. (It had, much earlier, in her's.) I'm a bit slow on some things, daft a better word maybe for such willful ignorance.
But. Always the single blunt syllable, antonymous modifier, smoke at night's close. At any rate; as it were. These places are never only my own. Every experience, no matter how lonely, is somehow a shared one; I run in loops, and still find myself ending somewhere other than where I started. Physical is metaphysical is emotional is neural is spiritual. We grow up even when we're looking behind us, maybe especially so. There are still more things I don't know than I might guess at; the biggest change is in learning to welcome all these shortcomings, rather than running away.
More simply: I still don't know how to say the most obvious things.
So we camped. We'd bags of wine and camp robbers swiping nuts off our caps, jokes about dwarves and stampeding goats in the dark of night - and sure it was absurdity upon absurdity after this loaded hiking of more than a few thousand feet, but perhaps none was more absurd than our presence there in the first place. Last year three days we stole almost as if by accident: he'd a permit, having won the lottery; other plans fell through; so we alone went, our merry three. This year four days we planned out, even before we had them, as if such things were always and ever clear. I've not the blessing of such foresight, but perhaps others have, and all those doubts and pessimisms aside, it was our trip we won and our trip we filled - enchanted, as it were, minus the mosquitoes, but so it goes. They're sweet people.
And there's so much more I'd say, had I words, but someone already told the story better. Shadows are large, and these words small - silence is a virtue I may yet acquire, anyways.
Still. This cranky knee aside, I'm sitting in the universe's smile, all these happy accidents intersecting. That they'd a silly, unrelated squabble, and so rather than meet in a group we hiked alone that first fine June day. That he'd a kind word about me to make it possible in the first place. An epic road trip made possible by (unintentionally) shared itineraries. That we'd that first three day trip in September, so enchanted as to plan another. That she'd move here in January. That her best friends would pick these best opportunities to visit. That I've - we've - this chosen family here. All these strangers choosing kindness and love and laughter and sunshine and afternoons made for alpine lakes, and there's smiles, smiles, smiles, smiles for all the miles both behind and yet ahead.
I'm overwhelmed, if honest, in the best possible way. It just keeps getting better - and you'll be here in a month, too. "Happiness is," she says, as if we simply chose it by stumbling on into these intersecting lives, but it seems that yes, that's it, that's it exactly. And if I can't own the mountains (alas), I can certainly own that: happiness is.
We're home, having found just what home is, and I think this time, we all know it. Home.