Mon 7 Aug 2006
I was sleeping in the car yesterday with my mouth gaping and my head lolling from side to side (my usual mode) when Dr. G. woke me. First he patted my knee. When that didn’t work, he put his fingers under my chin and gently closed my mouth. I jolted upright, feeling vague shame at falling asleep again and at my incorrigibly floppy jaw. But then the car curved around a bend, and the red and white mesas surrounding Sedona loomed over the brush- and cacti- covered terrain. I’ve admired these formations in magazines and calendars, but when they unexpectedly fill the skyline it is another experience altogether. It’s a feeling of subjugation, of being cowed and out-maneuvered by beauty. Where the desert around Phoenix is hardy, windswept, requiring the closest of attentions, the mesas are drastic and extravagant.There is nothing to do but look as long as you can, then stare at your lap awhile, then look some more.
We were on a trip to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary with a day hike in the canyons followed by dinner in a restaurant with a view. We’re finally starting to feel like something other than newlyweds– our shared memories cover too much territory. If I were to name this phase, I’d call it the “Got-Your- Back Phase,” like in the movies when Mr. and Mrs. Smith fend off the troops inside Costco, standing back to back, swapping knives and bullets. It’s strange to remember that, barring untimely death and unforseen circumstances, we’re only 1/6th of the way through our marriage! We’ve still got most of the way to go.
I’ve never met anyone like Dr. G. There is something about him that is essential and unchanging; when we stopped briefly on our hike to wade in the creek, he crouched unmoving over a slow pool,the late afternoon sunlight slanting across his blond hair, waiting for the tiny fish to swim into his hands. He would have done exactly the same thing as a five-year-old. He stopped to pick apples from an abandoned orchard and to watch the sunlight reflecting off the ripples of water onto the canyon walls. When something in the mix of scents triggered a faint childhood memory of mine (“I think the trunk of that tree might smell good”), he was the first to bury his nose in the bark and announce its similarity to butterscotch. He is obviously not the only person to experience the outdoors with all his senses, but the way he goes about it hints at his younger selves and gives me clues to his future ones. His uncomplicated continuity is remarkable, and one of the reasons I would go with him anywhere. It’s very nice to know that apples and creeks and ferns and pine trees and red canyons exist not two hours from where we live, and I can go there with him often.