It’s about the journey
Rebecca and I hiked Taylor Mountain again today. Summer feels like it’s racing towards us like a lion bearing down on the wounded gazelle that is my anxiety. Once we get through graduation, it feels like we’re getting set adrift in the ocean of Adult Life and being told to swim. We were lying on a grassy hillside near the top together when I told Rebecca that, and she laughed.
“I don’t know,” she chuckled. “Maybe not an ocean, but kind of like climbing a mountain.”
I made a show of shrugging my shoulders. “Oh, well, we’re already doing that,” I said, “so then no biggy.”
“Exactly.” She let a sigh escape through a brittle smile, then held my hand a little tighter.
I just watched the clouds drift lazily overhead.
“Mt. Adulthood, Expedition Log, Day 17,” I said, like I was speaking into a voice recorder. “It feels like years since leaving base camp, um, Childhood Charlie. The time goes by fast. The crew seems excited to reach the Early-Twenties Foothills, but looks like a lot of steep climbing from there.”
I could feel her looking at me, but she didn’t add anything right away.
“Day 28. Thirties Ridge is a lot closer now,” she said. “Some of the team are scared. It’s those damn economy nightmares again. They keep saying we’re going to be poor forever. It started a fight, with others saying we should have taken TikTok Trail earlier, made it to Influencer Station by now.”
I laughed. “Day 33. We got snowed in by another storm of marriage pressures the other night. We lost Jeff. Between that and losing John and Cheryl, our numbers are starting to dwindle. They left for Parenthood Pass yesterday. Radio-silent, beacons dark on radar. Hope they’re okay, but I hear those are some sleepless slopes.”
Becky turned to me. “You really think John and Cheryl stay together after graduation?” she asked.
I chewed my cheek for a second. “I guess not,” I said. “She wants to move to Arizona, right?” She shrugged her shoulders at that.
“Yeah,” she said finally, “but she also talks about studying abroad in France. She says a lot of things.”
“Oh, that’s a good point.” I clear my throat dramatically. “Day 45. A lot of us are scattered now. I asked our guide, Joel, if he thinks we’ll ever reach American Retirement Summit. He laughed and told me to focus on getting across the Mid-Life Narrows and then we’ll see.”
The wind blew up the hillside and whistled through the grass, neither of us saying anything.
“Or,” Rebecca whispered, “we could just burn the whole system down.”
We high-fived over that.