Monday, October 13, 2014

... billion year old carbon

Two fathers and two sons tried to camp in tents in the cool backyard last night. It didn't work for a number of reasons but we'll try again sometime, hopefully before it gets too cold. The boys, at least, became a little bit more familiar with the idea. Soon, we'll tackle Sugarloaf Ridge. From there, Yosemite and Yellowstone will be ours.

I took Rachel tent camping many years ago. We had driven across the country from west to east, as we drove through Nevada, Utah and Colorado we decided that we would come back to go camping. Rachel assured me that she was a true nature girl, that she had been to the Full Moon Parties in the desert outside of LA, a natural pedigree if ever there was one.

This indicator turned out to provide a false positive. A Type I and Type II error all wrapped up neatly together. 

She did not enjoy sleeping in a tent at all, nor not being able to put on makeup after a hot shower and even hotter coffee in the mornings, and then all else that goes along with being a woman in the wild. Underwear is not an option for her. It is an unstated requirement, etc.

On the other hand, I am able to let all those things go for a bit, even the makeup.

We did well when we were hiking together because the trail dictated what must be done and required little teamwork on our part, we only had to agree with the path ahead of us. As soon as we needed to work together things quickly disintegrated. It is interesting to me now - if "interesting" is the right word - because the problems we had then were the very same issues that eventually resulted in our undoing as both lovers and partners. I refused to believe it at the time, of course. Now, I have few remaining choices in the belief department.

We both remember the trip fondly, even though we were not as happy as we could have been. If only we had been truly meant for one another, and willing to put in the effort to remain meant for one another.

At the very least I will have something tangible to teach Rhys when he reaches the right age. He'll ask why Mommy and Daddy aren't married any more and I'll explain that one of the most important attributes any human can develop is to recognize when something is over. People hold on to that love for idealized romantic notions, or for fear, laziness and convenience. 

Perhaps I'll need to work on my wording a bit.

But that camping trip was great, in spite of ourselves. We went to Canyonlands, Arches, Monument Valley, The Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion, and few others. 

I planned the trip such that there was a new moon while we were at Bryce Canyon. There was a hike that the National Park conducted that took you down into the darkness of the canyon, which is already situated in one of the least light polluted areas of America, and you could still see your shadow there in the darkness against the ground, from the light of Venus alone.

This, when described here, might not sound like much, but the experience of it was memorable and left us both with a mutual sense of wonder and fascination.

The National Park had set up a series of high power telescopes. From within each of them we were able to see some of the wonders of the galaxy. Globular Clusters towards the edge of the galactic center were what I remembered most. Groups of sometimes as many as a million stars clustered together, containing the oldest known stars in the galaxy. Retirees.

The night we camped in Bryce it was just below freezing. I was okay with this, knowing how these things work and that the tent would be plenty warm enough for us and would warm up even quicker if we were naked, so that our body temperatures could heat the whole tent and not just the inside of our clothes. I was right, of course. But in the morning when we stepped out of the tent at that altitude she was not as pleased with the cold air against her skin.

I offered that we could cut our Bryce visit one day short and head to Zion where it was guaranteed to be warmer. So we did. It was about a one and a half hour drive and about 80 degrees warmer. So much so, in fact, that she had me drive straight to a grocery store so that she could stand in the beer section to cool down. It was Zion hot, truly.

In Utah they sell beer as if it is liquid damnation and they want the purchasers to know this. It's all set off in various sin zones in the grocery store, which served our purposes just fine. Sinners, her and I.

Once we were hiking in the Zion narrows, though, we were happy again. Wading upriver four miles or so, with each new bend in the canyon revealing a wonder beyond imagining. 

I'm starting to feel as if I have told this story before here. Ah well, I'll end it there, then.

I question now, knowing what I know about the ill-fated nature of our love, if I would do it again. Romantic love is in part foredoomed, we all know this after a certain age and accept it. It becomes something quite other than what interests us initially. Those changes, when managed together well, become a thing that you convince yourself you want as much as you did the other. Few would choose to give up their independence for it, if presented with that choice in full at the onset. Yet people cling to it anyway, grouped in concert by time and gravity in some remote quadrant of the galaxy, circling a super-massive black hole, clustered together in suburbs of stardust.

(Ben Cooper)