the new river gorge

Last weekend, A. and I drove out to the New River Gorge in West Virginia for our last climbing trip before A. jetted off. We stayed in a cabin with seven other people — a glorious 3-bedroom cabin with a hot tub, fireplace and big porch. A. and I arrived late Friday evening to homemade chicken enchiladas and J., T., and M. playing their guitars and singing everything from the Beatles to Belle and Sebastian.

We got up early Saturday to sizzling bacon and pancakes and warm coffee and then we hit the rocks — big, tall walls along a wide river. It was in the 60s. In late November. We stayed all day till our bodies were shot and hiked out just as a full moon was rising.

Later that evening, after the group gorged on pizzas, I could feel my eyes welling up as I sat in a kitchen chair next to A. The trigger was thinking about how I only had two more nights to sleep by his side for what seemed like so, so long. I was awash with sadness.

A. probed my eyes and asked if I wanted to talk — and yes, of course I did. We ignored the jokes that we were slipping away to make out, and I cried in his arms, soaking his tee-shirt. I cried it all out — all of my fears about him leaving — the experience changing him, him not being happy, me missing him, his safety. And then, I felt this tremendous relief. I was able to share my feelings while he was there. And I felt so connected to him.

So two days later, when I dropped him off at the airport, I felt strong. And now, as I read and clean and pack for the holiday and dream up adventures for me in my quiet apartment — and he’s about to take off from Dubai — I feel strong.

My coworker asked me last week, “Do you really want to spend your last weekend together with a group?” I hadn’t even thought of it that way. We had the 5-hour drive each way together, just the two of us. We had all of Monday together to sleep in and relax. And on the weekend, we were surrounded by good friends with lots of banter and laughter doing what we both love — being outside, active and adventurous. It was perfect.

And now, inexplicably, March doesn’t feel so far away.

Have a great trip, A. You’re going to be amazing.

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Filed under the great outdoors, travel

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