19. GRAND CANYON, AZ

(Alert! Start with Day 1 of our “30 Days x 30 Cities” blog series to follow this trip from the start)

I kind of think a better title for this post would be "Wherever You Go, There You Are" or something of that nature...

Whether you attribute the idea to Buddhist philosophy or an excerpt from a Steven King novel, the sentiment becomes clearer to me each time we travel.

Within this simple trope, I collide with the best and worst parts of myself and, consequently, my relationship to Zan.

In a previous post I declared that Zan and I are not fearless or feisty, different or special. I will admit, though, that we do have a super power of sorts, especially when traveling. 

Super power? Ok, so I'm prone to hyperbole — sue me.

Nonetheless, I still revel in our collective ability to continually adapt to new situations while remaining synced up to one another. As most people recoil at the notion of spending so much time with their partner or spouse, Zan and I seem to flourish with each passing hour.

Don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean that his driving doesn't irritate me or that I don't fall into the abyss of Instagram as he photographs our hamburger buns. We have our moments. But our ability to navigate uncharted territory and seamlessly create a "new normal" — side by side, each day — is one of the things that makes our partnership so strong.

Sex columnist Dan Savage insists that "any long-term relationship that’s successful is really a myth that two people create together..." I agree with this notion completely, as if I'd written the article myself. Our life is a myth, the very best kind of lie, and we work hard to live up to it one day after the next. 

But of course — wherever we go, there we are — and I am constantly conflicted by the person I find myself to be. I am impatient, cynical and generally wound much too tight. 

Arriving at the park, I completely doubted that the views of the Grand Canyon would ever be able to compete with the wonders we left behind in Yosemite. Fortunately, I was very wrong.

Moments after arriving we walked to Grand Canyon Lodge to watch the last minutes of sunset. Stepping onto the overlook at Bright Angel Point my sense of balance began bobbing frantically like the small bubble in a carpenter's level, struggling to find center.

In the fading daylight, the fine hairs along my body stood at attention as my eyes failed to focus and my head tried to assimilate the new information — was this data visual / temporal / artistic / mystical / all of the above?

My natural fight or flight inclination grew stronger with each step toward the thin railing as reason urged me to safety while curiosity dared me to fly!

In the days to follow, I had some of my most inspired moments, and also some of my lowest, in the canyon. We chose the much less popular, far less touristy, North Rim and relished the relative quiet as we explored — Bright Angel TrailCape Royal and Angels Window.

That said, I never felt more disappointed in my ability to adapt as I searched the grounds, arms outstretched, touching my iPhone to metal objects, circling the restroom and popping into lodges desperate for a signal. It had been days since I could get any work done and my overactive work brain haunted me in the canyons.

Reality 1, Myth 0.

In one of my favorite photos of the trip — a city-free, star-filled, night sky floats weightlessly around our glowing tent.

For me, it will always represent our choice to set off on this adventure, together, to go see long-anticipated things we have never seen before.

It also reminds me that next time I will choose to be lit up outside the tent — by the night sky and Zan's wonderment — rather than stuck inside, distracted by the illumination of my laptop.