Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Living Our Adventure
I stood on a mountain top with a brotherhood of men. We had worked together night and day for the past month. We had bonded closely over that time working in the woods of Colorado.
Our time was soon coming to an end though. Our boss wanted to make sure we had something to remember our time together. He wanted something that would tie us together for years to come after we parted ways.
He brought us the idea of taking 3 mm climbing rope, wrapping it around our wrist once and melting the ends together. Once melted together and the bond of the climbing rope sealed, we were not allowed to cut it off until our wedding night. It was a symbol of becoming a family together after the long month. When it would finally be cut off, it symbolized us joining a new family. To me looking back, the climbing rope symbolized the adventure that would lead up to meeting the woman I would eventually spend the rest of my life with...and the birth of a new adventure that she would bring into my life.
I grew up a flatlander amongst the sweet barbeque flavors of Kansas City. Though a flatlander, my heart yearned to be in the mountains. I pursued my adventure as well as I could growing up in the Midwest. Mountain biking, rock climbing, and ski racing from Wisconsin to Colorado. Still, I was chained to the Midwest. I felt caged and out of place. When I turned 18, I escaped as soon as I could. Looking back, I had finally escaped for good. My journey took me to Northern Colorado for awhile before finally settling in the San Juan's of Southwest Colorado.
There, a new adventure would begin. I found myself not the adventurer I thought I was in my mind. In reality, I was still a naive flatlander. For the first time, I really tasted fear. I made mistakes...a lot of them. Many of which probably should have killed me. But I learned from each mistake and did my best not to repeat them. Skiing, whitewater rafting, mountain climbing, jumping off 40 foot waterfalls into 34 degree flood waters...just living the dream.
As I grew older and wiser, the fears still persisted as did the reasons to face them. Life was an adventure and I refused to be someone who only loved the idea of an adventure. It was part of me, running through my veins. Life was meant to be a great adventure and I refused to just take up space in God's country. I would not waste the creation I was blessed with living in.
She was born in Austria and a child of Chernobyl. She graced the playgrounds of a crumbling Yugoslavia. Serbia, Croatia, tanks, and land-mines. A life lived of adventure but she knew no different.
And then came America. It was a country who had influenced much of her life already in foreign policy decisions. Now, it would try and raise her as she now stood on American soil.
When she turned 18, she wanted adventures she could chart her own course for. She took control of her adventures. Skydiving, mountain climbing, taking time off from college and taking random dream jobs just for fun. She was breaking out. She was coming into her own. She was finding out who she really was. If life was going to be an adventure, it was going to be her adventure.
And that's when our passion for adventure finally crossed paths. We both met while planning out a new adventure. It was an adventure we'd need a team for, the sport of adventure racing. Her team had just dropped her because she was a girl and they no longer wanted a girl on their team. I was just looking to find someone interested in teaming up. After meeting for the first time, it turned out that we made a pretty good team together. Soon, we'd become more than just an adventure racing team.
Starting out, we never knew our passion for adventure would take us as far as it would. One day, we found ourselves in a high mountain city overseas. It was early morning outside of our hostel. The fog was hugging the mountainsides surrounding the city. The city lights were still aglow from the night before as the sunlight began to sneak in and slowly wake the valley below. Above us stood an 18,000 foot glacier-covered peak. There are few places more beautiful in the world than that spot was at that moment.
Sadly, we were leaving. Our friends were all packed up and ready to go but I wanted one last moment with my love in such splendid beauty. I walked up to the vehicle and asked her to follow me. She came with a concerned look on her face as she thought I was probably sick and not feeling well. Though tired from the early morning, I felt okay. I had something else on my mind, a new adventure.
This was not the adventure we had seen earlier on our trip or even on previous trips. There were no road blocks put up to track us down. There weren't 16 machine guns pointed in our faces. No situations where you didn't know who you could trust. The sketchy climbing and hiking was behind us. We were past the dangers and in a safe zone. This wasn't life and death. This was life...till death do us part, a different kind of adventure.
There, I dropped to one knee and pulled out the 3 mm climbing rope that I once wore around my wrist. Due to wear and tear, it had finally fallen off after we first started dating those many years ago. When it fell off, I had a feeling that I should save it. I saw it as a sign. All those years, I held onto it for just the right time. Before our journey overseas, I crafted it into a ring. Though faded, it looked almost good as new...and it sure looked nice on her ring finger. The rest is somewhat like a blurry dream.
Three months later, we stood outside in another mountain range. This time, we were back in the States. We were back in the San Juan's, our backyard. Just us...and a hundred guests.
As a nice wedding gift from the Southwest monsoons, we were married outside in lightning and thunder. Afterwards, we jumped waterfalls with our wedding party instead of having the typical dancing. We battled hypothermia as we kissed for the photographer at the last waterfall. The wedding day was full of adventure. It was a picture of our lives. We had lived adventure, apart and together, since the days of our youth. But for us at that moment, there was another great adventure just beginning.