Some would even say a “sick puppy”.
So, let’s back up a bit … Previously on the RoamingBobcat:
By following a Pink Jeep back to the head office, I finagled myself a tour guide position at the Grand Canyon. The job came with medical, dental, housing and paid training. I was to get paid to drive along the rim of one of the seven natural wonders of the world and dazzle tourists with my intimate knowledge of the canyon.
Meanwhile, I met a ‘spiceful’ unspiritual man in the heart of spiritual Sedona, where we launched an open-ended debate of colliding worldviews. To avoid getting trapped in the cushy dangers of a potential nascent romance, I fled town and roamed southern Utah under the pretext of learning the art of canyoneering, and had a blast at it.
Intoxicated by the potential of new canyon adventures, I told Chris I was not interested in starting a relationship with him, especially one clearly doomed to failure from the start. I mean, come on, the guy doesn’t even own a rope! He brushed off my rejection with an unperturbed “Fine then, go find your fantasy lover”. My truck, however, had its own agenda on this matter, and I found myself parked in Chris’ driveway the moment I drove back into town by no volition of mine. He cooked me fish, sweet potatoes and kale, played the guitar and reengaged our philosophical debate. I was powerless against these ruthless acts of seduction and let myself be wooed like an unsupervised child.
It was from Chris’ place that I wrote the last post. And now you are all caught up.
Despite the Universe’s unfathomable generosity, I started my first day of training at Pink Jeep with some reservations. I looked around the table at the fifteen newly hired guides and was struck at the level of gratefulness and excitement around the table. These people felt, probably rightfully so, that they had just hit the jackpot of life. This is usually my natural mode of operation, so why was I sitting there feeling flaccid? I cleverly avoided noticing the glaring red flags that should have stopped me, a self-proclaimed self-aware person, dead in my tracks. I was reticent to give my phone number to my new co-workers or commit to future social events. I kept quiet and did not engage in any thru-hiking, PhD-quitting, India-visiting, I-am-so-awesome-aren’t-you-lucky-to-meet-me boasting of any kind. In the midst of everyone’s enthusiasm, I felt more alone than I had felt miles away from any other human being.
My first week of training felt like gentle yet unavoidable subjugation. There were official start times, required reading lists, mandatory meetings and group rides. To be fair, to anyone else and even to me when I could tame my squirming ways, these were all delightful parts of an easygoing job training program. I had come to Pink Jeep in full knowledge that switching from absolute freedom to any job would require some serious adjustment, I had also anticipated that going from fiery quirky Sedona to dull depleted Tusayan, our living quarters outside of Grand Canyon, would create a drop in my level happiness, but I had not anticipated the degree to which I felt trapped in this dream situation. I started leaving the hotel to sleep in the woods at night and reinstated daily morning yoga in search of grounding and peace of mind, to no avail.
Chris drove up to spend the first weekend with me in Tusayan. We had a lovely hike down the Kaibab trail, with great conversation, a good pace and plenty of sunshine. I used Chris as a guinea pig and gave my first informal tour. I had learned a lot about the Canyon in one week. I knew all the sediment layers, important people, place names, and enough tidbits and side-stories to keep my “client” engaged.
On the way back, as I drove along the rim of this incredible magnificent natural wonder, Chris pulled out a book and started reading. I was appalled! I said nothing. First, I had to figure out why I was appalled. After pondering the subject for a while, I decided that I was appalled at the lack of respect Chris was showing to the Canyon. How dared he read a book while in the presence of one of the seven wonders of the world!? The energy in the truck dropped an octave. I was angry, yet still quiet. Chris closed the book. In a failed attempt at bringing up the topic of my discontent in a non-confrontational manner, I asked “Why did you close your book?”. He said, “I was done reading”, and looked at me inquisitively, indicating he sensed there was more to my question. What followed was a 15 minutes monologue – Chris just observed and let me work through my full-circle train of thought without any judgement. It started somewhere around “how dare you”, “so insensitive” and ” you reading here is like you peeing in my church”, transitioned through “Mmmh. I seem to be over-reacting” and “I wonder what just got triggered in me right now”, and ended with “Wait! I’m the one who doesn’t care about Grand Canyon” and a teary-eyed mess of “I don’t want to be here at all”.
I sat on the issue for two days, talked to friends, slept on it, and considered potential gains and losses. On the third morning, I woke up with a crystal clear mind. I wanted to be in Sedona, not Tusayan. I was not in love with Grand Canyon – and from my experiences on Mt. Baker, in Death Valley and in Sedona, I know how being in love with a place feels- and had no desire to fake enthusiasm about it in front of hordes of tourists. I just had to trust that something else would show up for me in Sedona. Quitting made no sense to my brain, but my heart did not have a doubt. I felt the Universe was having quite a giggle, testing to see if I’d play it safe or live by what I have been preaching about following one’s heart and take a leap of faith. Under the eyes of my two flabbergasted managers, I turned in my first and last time-card and drove away without a second thought.
I didn’t even give Tusayan a fairwell look in my rear-view mirror as I drove away. I breathed in freedom, sang songs and gave loud thanks to the Universe in proportion to the joy in my heart. I had no idea what I would do in Sedona. I figured I would resume roaming, sleeping in the desert, following my bliss, and meeting Chris occasionally for a meal, a conversation or whatever. I figured my positive attitude would manifest another job opportunity, somehow. I sent Chris a text to let him know that I was driving south. He replied that he was starting the building of a flagstone patio in a beautiful part of town and could use some help. I had never built a flagstone patio, so, of course, I was interested. A few hours later, I was developing strong arms and a nice Sedona tan mixing bags of mortar, handling power-tools and carrying 200+ Lbs pieces of flagstone. That first night back in Sedona was cold – it even snowed a little bit – so I stayed at Chris’. That was three weeks ago. I’m still here, and the Universe is still giggling at its little playful twist of fate.
Here is what my Dad wrote to me on the subject:
“Guide at grand Canyon” was already a romantic proposition, but now you are swimming in pure romance, and I am sure you are not finding it too unpleasant! … And Chris Chris either: he found both a companion and physical laborer … How much does he pay you? ;0)
I think, nevertheless, that your unconventionality is well beyond the usual meaning of the word … In these times of global crisis, while millions of unemployed people in all countries are desperately trying to survive, a hot air balloon brings you a dream job (and breakfast) in the desert and you leave a job to mix cement with Chris??? …
As they say: “what is wrong with this picture! …” ;0)
Yesterday, Chris and I finished the patio. Contrarily to first impressions, we are not swimming in pure romance every day. Within the constraints of each of our own weirdness, we are just like any other couple. We have good days, bad days, perfect days and f-ugly days. Considering that we both came from long stretches of unbridled freedom (A full thru-hike and some serious post-trail roaming for me, 9 years of singleness for Chris) into a sudden 24/7 live-in loving working partnership, considering that I live in a magical spiritual world and Chris is about to publish “Unspirituality – permission to be human”, an invitation to embrace life without a spiritual story, considering that we match each other in stubbornness, intensity, wits and unshakable faith in our own world-view, considering all this … I’d say we are doing pretty well.
Yesterday, we broke up in the morning because of irreconcilable philosophical differences. By the time the patio was finished, we both knew this brake up would not take. Are we for keeps? Sometimes we think so. Other times, we think the Universe is a playful (sick) puppy with little regard for the fragility of human hearts. Either way, I have no regrets about my leap of faith. Until the next twist of fate, I live in Sedona, work as a landscape architect/irrigation specialist’s assistant, and enjoy being in a complex loving relationship. I sure didn’t see that coming …
Thanks for reading! 🙂
XOX – Semi-roaming Bobcat
Here are photos of the finished patio :