I hit the trails today.
We had planned a different hike, but when it was suggested we hike Knickerbocker Canyon, I agreed. It was too soon to reclaim it, but a reminder was what I wanted. I wanted to see us one more time…when things were beautiful and right with us. I wanted to remember you.
On every hike I went on after I decided to give my heart back to the one person who never wanted to give it away in the first place, I would see a rock and pick it up. I told him he was on every trail with me, in one way or another. A large collection of rocks are stacked on my counter by the sink.
” see all the trails i took you on?” I asked him, then I would lean into his neck and steal a kiss.
The trail today started off rough. Rocks were flashing before me saying, “I’m here.” and I would refrain from picking them up and holding them close to my heart, “I know you are. I know you are here with me.”
I reached a point in the trail that overlooks the calm river below and my heart ached. I remembered. I remembered as I looked over at him on that very first time i brought him there. “this is my favorite part of the trails.” I smiled at finally being able to show him. “ask me.” and he smiled at me knowing what I wanted to hear, “will you marry me, Weezie?” “Absolutely!”
I remembered that moment because his hand was in mine as he fiddled with the ring that was a promise of a lifetime of proposals until the day he would make me his bride and possibly everyday after that.
I pushed past the memories and took on some hills, begging for a moment of peace in my head. I began talking to myself, “There are two important times in life. The moment you realize that all the shit you went through in your life led that you to the place you are so you can appreciate the person you had become and the person you were with. The other time is when you realize all the the shit in your life that happened led you to the place where you have to use that knowledge to make the right choice to save your life.”
I was out there today to save my life. I had a destination…the river. I was going to dive into the river and wash myself clean and find my footing.
The water was freezing, but the breeze was still warm and I plunged in and came up gasping. My foot rested on a rock and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find the balance to remain standing on it.
“find your footing, Kristine.” I whispered to myself. I dropped my heel down and just like that I was no longer floundering. I was standing effortlessly. “Stare ahead and focus on something on the horizon.” I rested there with complete focus for what seemed like forever and then I felt myself falling backwards into the water, “TRUST FALL” I yelled out and went under.
The climb back out of the canyon proved to be hotter than I anticipated, but a million small steps got me through. I was too overheated to think about my heartbreak or feel his hand still in mine as he smiled at me, “Weezie, you’re the worst hiker EVER.” played on the hot breeze that would occasionally creep through the canyon walls.
My determination to get through this hike blocked out sounds and memories until the final stretch.
I climbed out of the canyon and I saw us sitting there from months before. “go on without me.” i begged him and we laughed so hard we both were crying. There we were, that memory so vivid.
I kept walking and put my head down. Sadness washed over me. We would never have a moment like that ever again. We would no longer be making new memories.
I kept my head down and watched my feet as they kept moving. I begged God to make it better, to make this pain stop and that is when I saw the broken beer bottles on the trail and I had a flash of sound of bottles hitting the bottom of my trash can. I heard the words he yelled at me. I heard myself begging for silence. “Do not respond.” I repeated over and over. I saw the face of mental illness and how it was destroying all that we had spent a life time building.
With only a short amount of time left to clear my head I said out loud, “I AM HERE! I AM NOT THERE!”
I crested the canyon alone. no one pulling me up. his hand not in mine anymore.
It will take a long time to be able to hike that trail and not see him next to me, hearing our laugher echo through the canyons.
Someday I will reclaim that trail.
Today was not that day.