30 years ago my friend Kris and I left our classes at BYU to go on a road trip to Cedar Breaks National Monument three hours away. We started the trip with cassette tapes falling off the roof of the car where we left them as we packed our Birkenstock sandals, hers real, mine fake, our shorts and t shirts and no real idea of where we were going. All we knew was we were driving, singing to George Michael, watching the Utah landscape shift from brown to green to red, our blinking eyes changing the scenes like a classic view finder toy.
I don’t remember everything about that road trip, a brief memory of the place we intended to go, the rock formations beautiful and stunning and not enough. We drove south, and ended up at the north rim of the Grand Canyon.
I was fearless as I sat on the edge for that picture, adventurous when we climbed into a rock building with no windows and posed for more, the setting sun lighting the last picture I have of us, sitting up against a boulder, together, sated and suntanned on this meandering trip.
We had a flat tire, a stay at a very dingy motel, rolling the tire down the street to be repaired in a town I no longer remember its name—and all the while pictures of us laughing.
Last week driving alone from Utah to Sedona I saw a sign for the south rim, 25 miles off the route, and I took it, the ghost of that adventurer who sang and laughed nudging me to take the right in that round-about. I thought I was going to find fearlessness there, enlightenment, the vista that would take my breath away, taking away my gathered up anxieties and wished for antidotes.
As the road started to climb I was terrified, each mile forward, deeper and deeper into a panic of what do I do, how do I get out of this? There was no way to turn around, and I could see the canyon out of the corner of my eye, breathing heavily I kept driving, no choice to go right or left, I turned into a look out, so that I could drive back down. The view above was beautiful I guess, for someone who could see it. I could not. I was ungrounded, wind blown and even looked around at the people walking on that dirt on the edge wondering if someone could drive me back down.
I found my way back to level ground, cursing myself for the road I had taken. Questioning what I believed would happen when I got there. Knowing I was not ever going to find the freedom I had looked for, it was not for me, the giving up angry and vindictive and final.
And then, many graces and gifts over the next six days, spent in an infinity of women, led me back. Sedona, the place I was meant to go, that would be meaningful for me, surprised me open.
Another day I will write about the cross hanging around my neck, the one I chose because it has a circle in it, never realizing what that would mean as I returned to this place, 6 days and 30 years later, my friend Kris replaced in the car by other strong and trusted women, meandering, no idea where we were going, but seeing and being seen all along the way.
I am fearless in this picture. Adventurous, together and sated. All the way home, we laughed.