Monday, September 26, 2011

Reunited and it feels

So this past weekend was my 10 year high school reunion.  I'm not sure what I expected. It was alright, either way.  I actually had fun at the mixer, even though while I was still driving out there I wasn't sure I wanted to be there.  But the mixer had a nice feel to it, everyone kind of adjusting and saying hello. People mingled pretty freely among groups and people.  There weren't a ton of people, but I knew most of the people who did show up.

Went to the football game the next day hoping the cameraderie might continue but by that time it'd dissolved into people who hung out together still for the most part and people who had more in common. By which of course I mean, married/kids/etc.  Which was fine, I had one of my best friends with me and her son, and we were doing our own thing too. And the night before even though I'd mingled throughout the class, I'd also kinda stuck to some of the people I'd have normally hung out with in high school. There were people I wanted to know more about that didn't get a chance to come, including an ex-boyfriend that I'd had an especially tumultuous relationship with in the past but had settled into a decent friendship with, even attending his eventual wedding and receiving a birth announcement when his son was born.  He was off doing something for a job though.

I couldn't put my finger on my ambivalence about the whole thing, even after. I think some part of a person always wants to prove something, and for a lot of people that's what a reunion is about. Who's got the best body/car/job/house or whatnot. And I get the impulse. You want to have become something. Maybe have something to *show* for the last ten years since you left the hallways and lockers behind you.  One thing I can say is that for the most part, I didn't see a lot of "keeping up with the joneses" at the mixer. Everyone seemed to just like saying hello.  I wish that spirit would have carried through to the game. I really left that feeling kind  All the good natured fun seemed to have dissipated by then.

Then I had a weird dream last night, where I dreamt of the reunion, being held at someone's house, I think, instead of the place it was held.  It was some sort of multi-night sleep over kind of deal.  There were two limos coming and I had somehow missed the second one while I was looking for shoes. I got a ride with my elementary school band director instead, and after a frustrating conversation arrived, dressed impeccably.  After some time had passed, the ex I mentioned previously arrived, unexpectedly, and asked if we could take a long walk and talk. It was pouring rain, and I agreed, so we set off. That's as far as the dream went because I woke up.

The dream bugged me more than I expected. But I think I figured out why. There's something about that particular ex that bugs me. Not him, not his fault, not really related to him except for this.  When I think about the past, esp. where he's concerned...and I know this will sound weird, but bear with me...I know that right now, my life could be very very different. I could be married and have a kid.  And I know that's still conjecture, but I conject with some very solid certainty to that effect.

Is it that I *want* to go get married and have a kid? No.  I'm not in some race to settle down. Those things will come when they come.
It's just that "you could be like everyone else" compulsion that everyone has inside them.
"You wouldn't be 'behind'" is what my head was trying to convince me.

Driving home today trying to figure out why the dream was getting to me that way, I realized that's what it was. Partially due to another conversation I had with a friend about always having something to prove.
Because 80% of my class is married with kids etc etc. Because I'm turning 29, because my sister and brother, both younger, are married, and one has a kid, and I'm not.

Then you know what comes to mind?
Long Way Around by the Dixie Chicks.  I've held on to that song. Cuz I never seem to do it like anyone else.  And maybe I am taking the long way around.
But sometimes that's more important than reaching some societal goal.
When you ponder the what-ifs in life...sometimes you realize..yeah. I could be married and living in suburbia with a white picket fence and 1.5 kids and a dog.

But what do you miss when you don't take the long way around? The I-80 of life might get you there faster, but you miss all the amazing things along the road.  Like finding a soulmate quick as the flash of lightning that changed it all...finding community, finding a place your heart was always meant to be, even though you'd never been there before.  Learning what it's like to be completely and totally alone.  Finding new passions and re-igniting old. Making new friends, exploring...standing at the bottom of an amazing canyon at sunset with your friends knowing you're the only one for miles.  Bringing people you love to the places you love, and new things blossoming out of that that make you smile....

Because I don't know, I could probably find a way to be content in that little suburban world. Content...but I always feel like I was built for different...for more.  I feel like I belong somewhere different.  I feel like there's a way to find something so impossibly great I'll spend the rest of my life being grateful for it.  I think that's out there somewhere if I don't just settle and I keep on going after life. Maybe dig my heels in a little bit more, start chasing the sunsets more adamantly.
I feel like....all the crazy places I've been, good and bad....maybe they're leading somewhere. I think about the amazing rekindling of a relationship I can't imagine living without today, how it's grown and changed for the better, and the glimmer of what the future could hold.
And if I'd stayed here? If I'd stuck with the safe, instead of following my heart then?
Well, I don't know.
I might be at the reunion talking about my husband and kids and house and whatnot.  I might even be pretty content in that role...

But for now, I'm taking the long way around, because I believe there's more.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Garden of the Gods...

I need an escape today. Work was rough.
And I keep putting off things I want to do, either for work or for other good and even fun reasons.
Either way, I kept meaning to come here and regale...whoever with tales of the awesomeness of my summer vacation....and it never happened.
Until now.
Because I'm taking some time for me.  I don't know that I've ever really stated this here or not. I'm an introvert. It doesn't mean I don't love hanging out with people or that I won't be social from time to time, it just means I need my alone time too. And if I go long long periods of time without it, like I have, even if I LOVED every minute of the social times spent with awesome friends (which I pretty much did, save maybe part of the reunion, which...that's a whole other ball of wax)...I need some sort of time to recover.  Take some deep breaths, sit on the couch in my own room and me. 

Anyway, that's a LONG long and unrelated introduction (I never was good at those...) to this. Which is, my friends, a little tour of the hike I took the day of my good friend Kija's wedding.  About 5 or 6 miles total on a really sunny summer day with one of my other best friends from New Mexico, Lewis, who we met in the last post. 

Several things stick out to me looking back at this now.  One is that Lewis and I always find adventure. A long time ago, Lewis and I went to a party, had a fabulous time, walked back to the place I lived at the time, and then hours later, he showed up at the door having randomly fixed my bike and suggested we go hang out in the canyon. We took silly pictures, hiked, nursed our hangovers with fresh air and greasy New Mexican food. When I first posted our photos, I named the album Lewis and Shaw, after Lewis and Clark. I feel like we've always been adventurers.  And we always have a good time together.  Half the distance was downtown Colorado Springs. So nothing as spectacular as when we hit this hill. But one of my favorite parts of the trip? When he and I sat down on a ledge for a water break, traded stories and shared trail mix. He's just a fun person to be with. And it seemed like a perfect day. :)

That's not to say there wasn't RIDICULOUS gorgeousness.  Be you Christian, Muslim, Atheist or...whatnot...pretty sure you can see why they'd call it Garden of the Gods.

It kept getting better the closer we got. We took this barely-there trail up into Garden of the Gods, which was so cool because I got to see it in a new way.  We literally came up over a hill right into the center of it instead of just driving in the gates and going in where they herd everybody through, and it made it more memorable.

Lewis blazing a trail. We weren't even sure if some of the paths we took were real paths. This one in the picture obviously is, but some may have been deer paths or somesuch. Either way, we were having a blast trying to plot the best way in.

I love these little trees that cling to the tops of cliffs where nothing else seems to dare to grow. I love the way it seems to be growing right into the sky.

Speaking of things that aren't at all afraid of heights...I was really excited to see these guys. I've never seen them in the wild. We took *lots* of pictures, and I think Lewis has a better one somewhere...his zoom was more powerful.  Still...we stopped and admired these guys and their grip on some seriously scary ground.

Not for too long though...this kind of doorway is the kind I absolutely have to run through.  The thing that's so awesome about having Lewis much as he's seen, and that's a lot, since he's been biking across the country two or three times now...he can still appreciate the insane, immense beauty of a place like this. THIS is what the word awesome was meant for. Having said that..immerse yourself. I know I'm already feeling better.

That's...vacation. That's getting to the wide open spaces. That's an amazing day in a wonderful place.

There were some gathering clouds and we had a wedding to get to, so we finally headed back to get ready. It's hard to leave a place like this.

There was miles more trail that could be explored, which I didn't know, since I'd only ever been to the parts of the park that most people get to. We found out from a cab driver who took us back to our hotel.
In the end though...I can't complain.
It's amazing to get to be somewhere like that, and even moreso to share it with a great friend.

It's amazing how even the recollection of it makes me happy.  I can't wait to tell you more about the wedding that took place a few hours after this hike....but that'll wait til tomorrow ;)
Harass me if I don't post it then. This is my me time, when I'm writing about the places and people I love. I hope you love it just a little in hearing it, too.