I am packing my backpack. I am listless, packing out of duty. I promised myself when my fiance passed away that I would still go on our intended honeymoon. We didn’t have much money so it was going to be an awesome backpacking trip… views galore, swimming forever, watching marmots waddle across a stage of granite.
It’s funny, the expectations we have of dates. I look at that September wedding date and it is just a date, but behind it for me there were all these expectations: my father walking me down the aisle, saying what was in my heart to my beloved for all to witness, laughing and feeding everyone and simply celebrating living and loving. And most of all, I expected my fiance to be there and for the rest of our lives until our kidneys failed or until we crashed into a ravine at age 96.
But now, with my fiance gone, that date is so… ugly. Like a broken dream hovering in the near future.
Packing is hard. You see, my fiance was my backpacking partner for YEARS. He was my go-to adventure mate. From the time we met post-grad school, whenever one of us had a crazy idea (“Let’s go cross-country skiing!” “Road trip to a hot spring!” “Let’s spend Valentine’s Day together and snow shoe our hearts out!” “Utah!” “Arizona!” etc ad nauseum), there would be a text or an email or even a brief voice message that said one beckoning word, “Adventure?!”
Now I pack, and this activity, which used to hold so much promise of laughter and curiosity, feels laborious and ridiculous. Who wants to eat dehydrated food, really?!?! (Astronaut ice cream is only good once, and that’s only as a 8 year old child at a science museum gift shop.)
He used to pack the food. He experimented drying out his own beef jerky and strawberries. He cooked for us: he loved cooking and despised commercial dehydrated food. “Mountain House has only 400 calories per meal? Are you kidding? That’s not enough calories to keep you going for more than 1 hour! I’m going to write them a strongly-word letter. (He never did get to that letter.)
I’m packing Mountain House dinners. It’s what I can do.
I’m bringing a nice camera. Well, a camera that’s working and that has better resolution than my iPhone. I turn it on to see if the battery is properly charged.
Oh. There are some pictures of a trip we did thru some slot canyons about a year ago on the memory card. Ah yes. I hadn’t posted these since some of them were blurry and/or unflattering of either of us. Hmm. It’s amazing how even terrible pictures bring a smile to my face. Ah… he did have a fondness of taking shadow pictures of himself. I have found a whole collection of them when I was sorting thru his pictures as I was cleaning out our old house.
As much wistfulness these pictures bring, it is a wonderful reminder of how GOOD it WAS. It was not PERFECT, it was massively fucked up in a lot of ways, but… funnily enough, I still feel like the luckiest girl in the whole wide world.
And so I pack. When you read this, I should be on a solo journey thru the Trinity Alps in Northern California… and even though I’m grounded with grief, I’m going to reach up and touch the sky with my heart. I’m still a pretty damn-lucky chick.