This time of year, I get super nostalgic. As I hide in my house playing a masochistic game of “How long can I survive without turning on the air conditioning” (a game that never lasts very long), I think about where I was at this time, the day before my birthday, throughout the years.
Five years ago, I was on tour with the band Insomniac Folklore, and we had just spent the night at a rest stop on the Salt Flats of Utah because our show in Salt Lake City was cancelled. I had cast my sleeping bag on the bare concrete and snuggled in, with my band mates scattered around me. I wrote about that morning on my blog:
When I woke up, the sky was lit with gold and pastel. Now I could see the salt flats: a vast lake of solid white, with a well of glimmering gold to reflect the rising sun. Jagged blue mountains painted the horizon as sunrise clouds roiled overhead. The breeze, scented with an ancient ocean, fluttered across my hair and bare shoulders as I sat up.
After everyone woke up, I walked out onto the flats. Huge salt crystals, patterned alternately like snowflakes and polyester carpet, stretched out before me, white and perfectly flat until they touched the mountains. The salt crunched beneath my shoes, the air quiet around me. The salt was cracked into patterns like dry white earth, the needle-thin riffs filled with bubbly formations. I have never seen a landscape like it.
Waking up to the sunrise, without so much as a tent flap to separate us, was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I’d trade a night in a soft bed for a sunrise like that any day.
What I didn’t mention in my blog post was that the nearest bandmate was a certain curly-haired young man named Zachary, and that after we both woke up we sat and chatted for almost an hour— the first real conversation we ever had. We talked about our families, and I learned that he had siblings named after Francis Schaeffer and John Calvin, and I decided that his family must be awesome, and he picked bugs out of his hair and looked shyly at the ground as he spoke. I realized for the first time that we could probably be really good friends.
Four years ago, at Cornerstone Music Festival in middle-of-nowhere, Illinois, Zachary insisted that he and I take an evening walk to celebrate our eight-month dating anniversary. I agreed, and we walked to the edge of a lake, golden in the evening sunlight. We talked about this and that, and about my upcoming trip to Europe. The next thing I knew, he was down on one knee offering me a ring. I said yes.
Three years ago, my mom had just gotten out of the hospital. Again.
Two years ago, we had returned to the Pacific Crest Trail after a week-long break, and our spirits were soaring as we coasted along the Tahoe Rim section, flanked by firs and wildflowers and gorgeous views of Lake Tahoe.
A year ago, Zach and I were still unpacking into the house we had just bought.
This year, I’m feeling deeply grateful for the way my life has transformed in the past five years. It’s incredible how much can change in so little time, and how half a decade can so quickly rush by.
|Portrait by my friend Emily.|