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Silence

September 7, 2012

One week after arriving home from my trip to North Dakota, we took off for California.  We visited my husband’s family in Los Angeles, then made our way to Lake Tahoe, by way of Yosemite National Park, to celebrate my mom’s 70th birthday.  Thirty-six hours after we returned to Philadelphia, my semester kicked off, and the boys soon returned to school, too.

Somewhere in that mix of traveling with family and the return to reality, in the rush to keep it all together, my story fizzled.  When I try to find my way back to it now, I struggle to look anywhere but ahead.  I’m reminded of the drive out of the eastern side of Yosemite, the curly drop from nearly 10,000 feet, as you make your way on Highway 120 toward Lee Vining.  The only way not to lose your nerve on this narrow road that skirts 2,000-foot drop-offs is to keep your eyes glued to the view in front of you.  In most places, there are no guard rails and only a wisp of a shoulder between you and the fall to the bottom.  Such blinding, disorienting beauty, but especially so if you attempt to look down or back.

Given the hantavirus outbreak that continues to plague Yosemite, I’m glad we only passed through the park in a day, opting not to camp this time.  We told ourselves that some day we would return, and linger, some day when nobody in our mini van was potty training or insisting flip-flops are acceptable for hiking.  We’d leave the iPads at home so the kids would be forced to stare appreciatively out of their windows at the breath-taking scenery, just as we’d been forced to do on family vacations in the ancient time of B.D., Before Devices.  It took us over seven hours to make our way across the park with short stops and mini hikes along the way.  Seven hours, boys.  Don’t blink.     

People describe the astounding scenery in Yosemite as jaw-dropping, and they’re right.  It’s hard to talk with your mouth hanging open, though, and that was my best discovery in Yosemite: a profound quiet.  For the first time in many months, I had nothing to say.  The ancient, towering sequoias in the Mariposa Grove quieted me with their 2,000-year-old wisdom, making any profundities I might have offered sound like baby’s bleats.  Hours later, on the other side of the park, climbing with the kids on the rocks at Olmsted Point, I realized I was actually grateful for the silence, and the perspective.  From the vantage point at Olmsted, where at times you feel as if you are teetering on the edge of the world, I liked feeling quiet, and small. This story of adoption and reunion that has consumed me the past few years took a back seat to a much grander picture.

Only when I pick up my writer’s magnifying glass to examine this part of myself more closely does it fill the entire lens.  I’ll pick it up again soon.  I do care about what’s there.

But I’m also tired right now.  Bone-tired.  For a brief time, standing in one of the most beautiful places on earth, I was glad to be whole again, not fractured by scrutiny, glad to take my place in a story far bigger than my own, and to simply live it.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 10, 2012 8:48 pm

    Jen — curses. I have too many accounts floating out there. No idea what account I usually use for this, so know that this is JF in Seattle. 😉

    • twinprint permalink*
      September 14, 2012 3:18 pm

      I knew it was you; I just knew. Thanks, Jen. 🙂

  2. September 10, 2012 8:47 pm

    Take your sweet, whole time. We’ll be here when you’re ready to come back, or we’ll head on over to new writings along different paths. Much love to you. xx

    –also, ‘BD’ — so true.

  3. September 7, 2012 6:13 pm

    This was beautiful. I particularly like the idea of BD.

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