I have driven over 6000 miles in the last month, and I am exhausted. I got a job with Wilderness Quest in Utah (www.wildernessquest.com) on short notice. On May 9th, I packed up a bag full of camping gear and flew south to train for three weeks. In the end, I came out of my first shift working with adult addicts in the deep desert wilderness of the Southwest elated. I was driving an old Toyota pickup with little engine power for the long inclines, and the head clinician was passed out in the seat next to me. As we drove through canyons and over passes, a harvest moon big enough to obscure the horizon rose up over the junipers and sage brush and lit the road. And I cried. I was so happy, having a job working outside, working with people, working for a company that was more than I could hope for, so many of the pieces that have made up my life so far coming together into such a beautiful picture.
But I was crying from a dissonance, as well. As much as I loved this job, these coworkers, the individuals we served. As much as I adored waking up under the moon, hiking through redrock canyons, finding clear springs hidden deep in crevices of rock, watching hawks hunt and jackrabbits evade them, finding mountain lion tracks by the stream in the morning, crying with a woman as the depth of her addiction sinks in and, for the first time, she wants ... really, honestly desires change, and realizes she is willing to fight for it. As much as I loved all these things, there was Peter, waiting patiently in Alaska, and with him all of the plans we have together; the land we will buy in the mountains, the kids we will teach and mentor, the goats and the tomatoes and the yurt and the woodstove glowing all night through the winters we are planning to spend together. Graduate school in Seattle. Travels to India and Kenya in our dreams, and now in our plans. Together.
When I returned to the Northcountry to pack my things and drive back, leaving Nyssa in Chicago on the way, leaving Peter in Alaska at the outset, the dissonance grew louder. I was leaving this one thing I loved for another. I believed at the time it would be alright, because I knew the strength of our connection and commitment. Halfway through my next shift in the desert, I knew I had been wrong. My relationship with Peter is irrevocably intertwined in my life, now. This miracle was hoped for with an intensity I would never admit until it was realized. It is realized now, and we will be gray-haired, senile old earth-muffins racing our walkers to the mailbox together before this chapter closes. A job in the wilderness, no matter how perfect in the moment, can never touch that span. Even if it means moving to the urban sprawl of the northeast for a time, building this life is the most important thing.
Suprising my parents at their home in Texas with the Trifold Announcement: I Quit My Job, I Am Moving Home, I Am Getting Married ... That was a challenge nothing in my life so far had prepared me for. But I am home now, the car a little worse for wear, my body still dazed from all the road-miles and changes, finding myself perusing wedding planners and looking for jobs in Pennsylvania. Peter is on his way to meet me, weaving his way through the Yukon on his own epic solo drive. He will be here soon. We will be here soon. And I suppose that is all that needs saying.