Monday, November 21, 2011

Who we were

Saturday night we danced, Brian and I, at my cousins wedding. We smiled and laughed and kissed and danced. It's been a long time since we danced.

We dance every night with the girls, but that is all about getting out extra energy and swinging Kathleen around and spinning her. We have danced a few lines of a song in the kitchen while cleaning up after dinner. But it has been years since we really danced.

We are not particularly graceful or skilled dancers, but we dance together with the abandon of people who don't really care. We sometimes look better than we should because we don't worry what we look like. I suppose sometimes we look like asses out there, but asses having a good time.

We both noticed, how light it felt and easy and . . . like us.

I'm not quite sure what to do with that now, because it was a good reminder of who we were, who we could still be.

Over the summer, I took my niece camping at a local state park. It poured the one night we were there, and as I was standing in the rain heating water for our dinner, the smell of the gas and powdered cocoa and the hiss of the stove made me suddenly miss backpacking with Brian.

I was perhaps nostalgic, forgetting how tired my legs would be, how achy my back, how heavy the pack. I forget about my tent anxiety (perhaps a mild case of claustrophobia that I had to overcome each time we went).

I remembered how good the food tasted when you've worked for it, how cool the breeze feels on your sweaty back when you take your pack off. I remember taste of boiled water and the watery dregs of hot cocoa as I drank the water that cleaned my mug and the taste of oatmeal mixed with a leftover tang of chili in the morning. I remember the smell of the open outdoors and the musty tent, despite good airing and drying practices. I remember the snug feeling of slipping into my sleeping bag, my sleeping pad shifting under me as I rolled trying to get comfy. (Comfy is a relative term in the woods.)

Standing there in the pouring rain, in my Gore-Tex coat (it's more than a coat, it could save your life, Brian says) with the well appointed hood, tending the stove that I lit for the first time ever, I got nostalgic. I missed the damp, dewy mornings, the hustle of setting up and settling in in the evenings, the hard climbs, the good views and pack off breaks, dreaming about what we would eat when we finished.

Did I really miss all this? Or did I miss that time with Brian, the sense of adventure? Do I miss who we were then? Do I miss the time we had? our innocent, unscarred selves? Do I miss my body that seemed more invincible? It seems somedays we are both falling apart.

If we had a chance to go away, I would be inclined to go someplace with a cushy bed, perhaps a fireplace, good food, wine. But part of me would collect all the gear, tent and sleeping pad, sleeping bag and stove, cook pot, plastic mug, sturdy spoon, stuff sacks and synthetic clothes. We'd get it all in our packs, purple next to black, and go. Tie on our boots, hoist the heavy packs, tighten straps, grab our poles and go. Left, right, left, right. Go.

Brian would lose me on the uphills, and coming back down too. Much of our day would be spent in solitude with breaks to chat and the longish night together. I would not come home well rested (oh, like that wedding on Saturday), but I like to think I would come home restored.

Brian has always lamented that I don't do winter backpacking, so we have a long winter and mud season to get through before we might even venture out. I think we need some time though and that reminder of who we were, who we still are underneath the tired grief and lack of sleep and daily grind of diapers and laundry and groceries and bills and dishes and bedtime. Maybe a day hike soon (like we did on our first date) would do the trick.

Or maybe we should just crash a wedding and dance.


  1. I've been mulling this post over in my head for a while. I love it so much. I'm glad you had this time together, to remember and to reconnect.

    When N and I were dating we took dance lessons at an Arthur Murray studio in Chicago. We loved it so much that we practiced even when they told us not to (they didn't want us to get fixed into any bad habits - oops!). Now that I think about it, I may have to drag him off to crash a wedding, too.

  2. We've never taken lesson, though friends thought we had for our wedding. Sounds like fun, though. (I wonder what bad habits we already have.)