These lovebirds (and their sweet Labradoodle Moose) and I spent a cozy Saturday together a few weeks ago. They're getting married in Italy next year and I couldn't be happier for them. So much love to you, Reynolds and Scottie!
"All I ever really want to know is how other people are making it through life. Where do they put their body, hour by hour, and how do they cope inside it."
— Miranda July
On Monday morning, while I am walking across campus to my first class of the day, I tell myself that I'm living the dream, and in the freshness of the day, I sometimes believe it. By Monday afternoon, without fail, I am considering dropping out of school all together. Luckily for both my career and for the University of Tulsa's Bursar office, I'm slightly more clear-headed the rest of the week.
On Tuesday I should be thinking about Aristotle's absolute kingship or the roles of stepmothers in Grimm's Märchen but all that fills my mind is the crackle of fallen leaves and the pink sky. It is November—"the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the seas, passionate wind-songs in the pines"*—yet the air still breathes Indian summer and if you concentrate, you can still smell the warm scent of wildflowers in the sun. There is road construction on Utica and when I close my eyes, the exhaust of the slow-moving cars reminds me of living in Nairobi, the land of eternally balmy Novembers.
* L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island
On Wednesdays I eat lunch at my desk in the language department, the jumble of Spanish, Russian, German, and French tumbling over me. I'd like to think I can absorb the languages through some sort of magical osmosis, but German is still the only one I can understand. Despite wavering between several different possibilities every week, I'm still a German major. I love the paths it leads me down.
On Thursday a year ago, I woke before dawn and raced out to the middle of Masai Mara to catch the sunrise, stumbling across a pride of lions in the process. This Thursday, I also woke before dawn but raced instead to an 8am math class, and later ate lunch during a thunderstorm with my friends Mikayla and Laura and Laura's baby Emma. How things change in a year.
On Friday last week I drove out to a hill thirty miles out of town with my friend Amy and her boyfriend Dylan. It was Amy's birthday and in celebration, the stars and the skyline glowed in the distance. Amy and Dylan are dating long distance too and Amy, familiar with the ache, wrapped me in a long, consoling hug while the night air whipped into a wind.
On Saturdays I've slipped into a soothing routine. The mornings are slow and thoughtful: rising a bit later (Saturday is my only day to sleep in, after all), taking my time making myself a warm latte and some avocado toast before working out. Sometimes the mornings involve a bike ride too, or maybe a visit to the farmer's market when it's open, or sitting quietly in the sun to read a book that isn't assigned for a class, something that doesn't happen often anymore. After lunch, I slip away to a coffee shop to get some homework done. Surrounding myself with a pleasant, studious atmosphere usually tricks me into actually getting something done.
On Sundays I visit my grandmother. She moved to Tulsa last year and after so many years of living apart from so much of my family, it is always a joy to remember that I have a grandmother who now lives close by. At her apartment, I pull out the old photo albums, ranging from the time she was a baby in the 1930s to the time when I was a baby in the 1990s. It makes me want to be more diligent about printing out my own photographs and displaying them. It is usually dusk by the time I drive home and I wonder where the week has gone.
After an ascent of roughly 1,500 feet, the trail leveled out into a meadow. No longer sheltered by the forest, a wind that smelled like snow blew across the grassy expanse, shifting the slate-colored clouds across the mountains. As we set up our tents, a drizzle began to fall, which quickly hardened into sleet. Fingers frozen and stiff, we joined the three other campers by the communal fire pit. When our wood supply grew low, the guys disappeared only to return with small trees slung across their shoulders. I huddled as close as I dared to the smoky flames as the wind increased and sleet pelted my jacket. That night, Jacob so sweetly filled a Nalgene with hot water and put it in my sleeping bag to ward off the chill. I focused on staying warm instead of worrying about the bears roaming the forest. I must have eventually drifted to sleep, but once the warmth wore off and I could evade wakefulness no longer, we unzipped the tent to an early-morning world blanketed softly in snow. As I tried to rub warmth back into my hands, I couldn't believe that, at home, just a few hundred miles south, the temperatures were sweltering.
When we hiked back down into the valley, the wind abated and the skies began to clear. We drove along the Icefields Parkway and my breath was caught in my throat the entire time: lakes bluer than you could imagine, framed by glaciers towering jaggedly above; wispy fog hanging gently over the evergreen forests; windy roads that reveal sights more beautiful with each curve. What do you do with yourself when you are faced with scenes more wondrous than you could ever conjure up in your head?
I am back in Oklahoma now, and though it all seems like a dream, the smell of smoke still lingers in my clothes and in my hair. My confused state of mind is certainly no surprise: Banff National Park is the sort of place that feels like a dreamland. I can only hope this is not my last visit.
Checking out the view at Bow Lake
Morning view at aforementioned campsite
The clouds cleared just enough in the morning to see the tips of the mountains.
It was still green back in the valley.
With my love at beautiful Moraine Lake
Jacob, Hilary, and Chad admiring Athabasca Glacier
Yours truly cheesin' on a glacier
Overlooking the Icefields Parkway