BACK. BACK. BACK. BACK. Oh la la and oh my my, mama, mama many worlds I’ve come since I first left home! Back in a whirlwind to New York, picked up by Sweetheart at the airport, immediately to New Park Pizza for the city’s most iconic slice (when you find yourself in Howard Beach…), and home to Virginia on the wings of a sailing sheepskinned jet lag, home to find the house totally overturned in anticipation of “holy moly we’re getting married, like, NOW, we’d better get this joint fixed up!”, the garden: NOT DEAD! and yielding 1 tomato, 1 yellow crookneck squash, and 1 costata romanesca squash. Heir. Loom. Cukes and Peppers greening and golding up, weeds and dust and vines covering everything like a redneck Miss Havisham. Infinite adventures to recount between now and then (and we’ll get there) but in the meantime, just want to send L.O.V.E. to this cow that McKay hired to wake us up in the Haute Pyrennes so that we could go swimming in that utterly freezing glacial snow-melt lake before coffee (watch the video here. BON JOUR!). As Ann Marie says: If Lac, Then Nage. And L.O.V.E. to these ladies, these women of adventure and grandeur who are at once so different than I and also so very much the same. It is one of the most sincere joys and pleasures there is to crease the map against its folds (I promise), eat the red diamonds, run through the crowd holding hands, be re-taught stickshift, receive energy barefoot in the farmer’s field, cover the car in flowers and honey, and make bread and wine and saussicon in the crumb filled scarf strewn backseat of a Fiat 500 with you all. Nage. Tour. La. Jours, ma biches.
You know that you’ve gotten the right people together, that you’ve somehow collected all of the right and brightest stars into your orbit when they come together in your gravity and shine even brighter in each other’s presence. We had 19 for Thanksgiving dinner, and from my end of one long table across to the end of the other I could see McKay and Rav and Ann Marie in deep discussions, laughing together, and having found the old pad stolen from the Ace in Portland in my writing desk (which was open to provide a surface to display ham biscuits) and from their long standing positions as from-what-I-can-tell-the–most-brilliant-and-gorgeous-and-preeminent-scholars-in-their-fields curated reading lists for each other. How fortunate I am to have ladies like these in my life. And how fortunate I am to have had a few of these titles given to me by these very ladies. A gift of heartswell, indeed.
Miss Rav and Ann Marie and I had gotten a recommendation for a new hike: “it’s kind of a slog, but I swear it’s totally worth it when you get to the top. You’ll just have to see for yourselves” our sort-of-out-of-shape friend said, and that’s the ideal reference point for hiking advice for me. I don’t want trail-running triathletes to tell me something’s a walk in the park, especially if I’m of the mindset that the airbrushed alter-ego trucker hat that Rav gave me and a tribal necklace will be sufficient for “hiking equipment”. Our friend was right, the hike itself was a relatively short (5 miles round trip) but insistently steep trek ending with a sheer-rock-face scramble up to a bald point of granite, Spy Rock itself… we were pretty sweaty, but when we reached the summit, took in the stunning 360 degree views of the Shenandoah valley on all sides, and felt the breeze through our hair, well, it was totally worth it. And here’s a video Ann Marie took because it’s awesome. “Do you think we can hike to that rock outcropping?” “Maybe we can fly there”.
These are my two best friends, dishing out some serious life advice. This is one in a serious of polaroids of accidentally perfect instructions for being a good grown-up, including:
I will see them in one week and I have the same-time wanderlust and heartache for them so hard it’s starting to give me goosebumps.