Firstly, I feel the need to apologize for the time since the last post. I know I don’t, but well, I shall nonetheless. Between the trip, getting back, getting things back together, getting Anya off to Special Days Camp, and then having time together with Shelley, alone, for the first time since Amie died…well…it’s been a heck of a summer, thus far.
So, yes! A blog post. Let’s do this. It’s always hard to get started, to build the momentum to do a post when you haven’t written in a while. More about momentum later…
The trip seems to be the thing most pertinent thing to talk about. It was fantastic, in so many ways. The most obvious was the time spent together; doing all the normal trip things that could be done. We truly enjoy spending time with each other, Anya loves to read for long periods of time (while driving between incredibly long distances to National Parks), and I don’t mind driving those incredibly long distances either.
It was also really great to see friends that we haven’t seen in so many years. Watching them discover Anya, see that a truly great kid she is….so amazing. Also, in 2 of the 4 places we stayed, they had girls Anya’s age…so watching Anya get to have surrogate sisters was another true pleasure of the trip. First Amelia and Silvie, and then Dasha and Ksenia, Anya loved spending time with both sets, and talked about them a ton once we’d left.
Also, the National Parks. Man o man do the mountains call to me. But you know who else loved them? My little mountain goat, Anya. 2 weeks before we left on the trip, we walked to the farmers market, and she had a hard, hard time with the 3-mile round trip walk (all flat). By the end of the trip, she was cruising through 5-mile hikes with a 600 ft elevation change both ways.
Highlights of the National Parks:
- Zion and Bryce Canyon were the hands down winners for places that made us want to return, and hike hike hike more more more. Just knowing that Zion NP is just a quick 2.5 hour drive from Vegas makes us want to plan a trip next spring break, and explore it for a week during a less hectic time.
- Great Basin National Park: It was disastrous for us at the very start, with rain and accidentally setting up camp in someone’s occupied camp site, but by the end of the next day, as we’d hiked up to a grove of 3000 year old bristlecone pine trees, and then past to a snowy glacier, with a 6 mile hike starting at 10,000 feet….so, so damned cool. …and to see Anya doing it with a skip in her step and nary a complaint? It made my heart sing.
- Caves! We went to Oregon Caves NM and the Lehmann caves in Great Basin, and both were insanely cool. I’ll never be a geologist (Jeff, Chris) and want to study them, but I still find it fascinating to see things that grow at 1-inch every 1000 years….and see them 10 feet tall. A must see if you are anywhere in the area of any of these places.
Lowlights of the National Parks:
- Yosemite: We had originally been planning on going to the Grand Tetons as we left Oakland and headed to Denver, but I got the idea in my head to divert to Yosemite instead, as it was directly in the path of us heading out of Oakland. TERRIBLE IDEA. Here’s what I didn’t know, and my friend Art tried to tell me but I couldn’t hear…Yosemite in July is roughly akin to Cedar Point in July….insanely packed, and full of people you don’t want to be packed around for any amount of time. Gorgeous vistas, but traffic jams as bad as US-23 on a Friday night heading north. Amazing hikes, but the pathways as crowded as the Ann Arbor Street Fair. MISERABLE.
- Grand Canyon: Still gorgeous… but compared the accessibility of Bryce and Zion…. So underwhelming. I guess we could have plunged down beneath the rim, and tested ourselves, but we weren’t ready for that in week 1 of our trip, and it was…. Crowded and ugh.
But the trip was 95% amazing, and so many stories I could type and tell, but that’s kinda boring for 99% of you. But I’d feel remiss if I didn’t take a second to thank everyone who was über generous to us during the last few years. It was your generosity that enabled us to take this trip, to do it right, and to have this time of healing for us.
To talk about Amie for a bit, because heck, that’s why many of you come here, we’re quickly coming up to the 6-month anniversary of her death (next Thursday). We designed her headstone, and ordered it this week. It will be delivered in mid-September, and I think all of y’all will really like what we did. It’s going to make me cry like a baby the first time I see it, I’m sure… but that’s part of the process, right?
I talked a lot after Amie died about the slideshow in my head, and how the negative images were dominating the space for so long. I think that’s really starting to abate.
I’ve had this image in my head for a long time. I have all these jars on this shelf, some are these short old-school glass jars with rubber stoppered lids and metal latches, and others are taller, thinner, and open topped. I see this as the shelf in my head, holding all the parts of me, past and current, good and bad, light and dark.
I had this mental image, after Amie died, of this one jar, pure black and dense. So dense that it was this tiny jar, but it was causing the entire shelf to bow, possibly causing it to break in the middle of the night, spilling all of the rest of everything all over the place, and shattering the glass, creating havoc.
But as I think on this now, that shelf isn’t bowing. The jar is still there…and at the bottom it’s still black as ink…. But the top of that jar has been transformed. It’s bubbling, it’s leaking out, and it’s no longer black. It’s a swirling mixture of reds and greens and oranges and yellows and blues and pinks ( but not green, I don’t like green <or sez the Amie>). I wish I was an artist, as I’d love a drawing of what I just described. :)
One last thing, before I call this good, and do another post next week, running. Shelley commented to me about 10 days ago how she was really getting inspired by people in her life posting these Couch to 5k updates, and how she had really hated running all her life, but maybe she could give it a try. I told her I’d love to do it with her, as a means to do something healthy together, to help her be more fit, to help myself be fit at all, and well…to give myself a challenge. I ran A LOT in hs, but nearly nothing since.
We’re been running for a bit now, and both of us are really surprising ourselves. We made concerted efforts to live far more healthily since the beginning of the trip, as things really got put aside (for good reasons) while Amie was really ill, and afterwards.
For me, I’m really inspired by the people in my life who’ve really transformed themselves in the pursuit of fitness, mainly thinking of Sarah and Jillian. Hoping we can keep this up, and stay on this path of wellness that we’ve been cultivating for a few weeks now. Also, Jillian just had a baby today. YAY JILLIAN! WOO!
Ok. One last thing: I got a great FB message today from a sister of a former student, talking about lots of stuff, but mostly (to me) about reaching out. She complimented me about my reaching out and saying something kind to her Mom, in regards to a rough situation she was struggling with. I responded with this:
“I think that other people also just don't know what to say, and how to say it...so they just stay quiet for fear of making anything worse. I think, through our experiences these past few years, we know it's better to risk the awkwardness than leave the other person to their isolation.”
So, that’s my request for anyone bothering to read this WALL OF TEXT (hi, joe!). If you know someone who is struggling through something that is rough, that is painful, that is harder than you know what to do with… don’t stay silent, reach out and say hello. You’re not going to make it worse. You’re going to remind them that they’re thought of.
Done now. Posting.
Ok, had to include at least one picture.
Here's us, picking Anya up from camp.
What a tall, lovely, confident, and awesome little girl we have.