Talking Big Ideas.
“I go back in time and get in touch with who I really am.”
~ Etta James
I get up at dawn and walk to the ranch house.
The ground is stiff. First frost of the season. Maryrose is already inside, by the fire. Coffee is ready. I fill up my mug and go sit next to her. Morning Coffee is our ritual. Today is special. It’s her birthday.
We smile at the dog, wagging his tail and demanding attention. We travel back in time. To all her birthdays we’ve shared together.
The First One
We’re on top of the infamous Watergate building. The roof is styled like a boat. By good fortune we get the best seat. The front bow, like where Leo took Kate flying in Titanic. We’re overlooking the river. It’s the best view in DC we’ve ever seen.
More than a decade living in the area and I had no idea this place existed. My brother Scott told me. He found it after exploring the city his first week here.
Before dessert arrives I give Maryrose tickets to see John Prine. He’s coming soon and we both love him. We have no idea, of course, that in a couple years a global pandemic will end his life.
We take a picture together. We’re selective about who sees it. We’re still hiding our relationship from colleagues.
We’re dressed to the nines at the fanciest steakhouse in town. We get a ribeye so big we have to share. It cost more than a hundred dollars. I’m thankful we don’t have to buy two!
A few weeks earlier I went to my buddy Adam for advice. He’s the master of entertainment. If you ask him for the best way to take your partner out to celebrate, he’ll have the correct answer. All the places are marked on his Google Maps.
After dinner Maryrose and I stroll through downtown DC. We happen upon a hidden outdoor fire. We relax on a stone bench together, gazing into the flickering light. An idyllic moment. She loves it.
Of course, it’s no coincidence. Adam secretly planned the whole thing.
Adventure time! We climbed Tenaya Peak and then did a two-day hike on the John Muir Trail. From Tuolumne Meadows to the Yosemite Valley. It’s Jeff’s idea, my mentor who taught me to climb. He’s here with us. So are Scott & Erica — clearly in love, within a couple years they’re married.
Maryrose and I sneak away after getting to the Valley. We climb several pitches up a cliff side to a secret swimming hole in the middle of Yosemite Falls. It’s my favorite place in the world.
Who better to share it with than my favorite person?
We’re living in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Somewhere in Maryland. In a bus that still lacks electricity and running water. What the hell happened to the world??
We celebrate by doing the exact opposite of last year: a stable night at “home” eating tasties and watching a movie in bed on our tablet.
Adventure is the main dish now. Stability’s the spice.
We are engaged.
We’re at her family ranch in Montana. We travel back in time over Morning Coffee. To all the September 17th’s we’ve spent together. In the evening we dress up and go see a play at a local theater. Half the crowd is wearing masks.
Less than two weeks later Maryrose and I drive to Durango. A magical mountain town tucked in the southwest corner of Colorado. We bring all our stuff with us.
One of our goals for the year: travel The Rockies and find our dream community. Get a little place of our own. Out in the woods. Ideally on a river. Establish roots there.
We did it.
Right now, on October 1, we are closing on our new house.
We strive to live with intention. To follow our principles rather than fall into line.
And yet, on the rooftop of the Watergate, how could we have foreseen or planned the path we’ve taken?
I think about Spinoza’s Stone. Imagine skipping a rock across a river. If the rock was conscious like us, it would probably “think that it continued in motion solely because of its own wish . . . ignorant of the causes whereby” its path is guided. Such it is with the stories of our lives. We do our best to author them. Sometimes we succeed. With perspective we see that more often we are guided by others — people like Scott, Adam, Jeff, and Maryrose — and also forced to navigate the countless unexpected twists and turns along the way. And yet, the stories are ours. To carry with us. To share.
Traveling through time with a loved one is worthwhile.
Pick an important day that you spend with someone close to you. Sit down with them over coffee. Trace the day back in time. Capture the stories you unearth. Polish them up. And share.
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