Sunday afternoon and Eliza is meeting with her brother at the pool. I had lost my tickets to the Shakespeare play today so we weren’t able to go. Having an afternoon to myself I grabbed my field guides, binoculars and journal and threw them into the Trooper and headed out to Mt Pisgah.
Mt Pisgah. It has been well over a year since the last time I made it out here. How long has it been? Two years? Too long. My first year in Eugene saw many visits to Mt Pisgah, sometimes as many as two visits a day. Driving the short road down to the park I had the same nostalgic feeling of driving down the road back home in Arkansas.
Parking the Trooper I began my walk, only to find out that a building has been constructed and a young man was sitting outside selling parking decals. I paid the $20 for a year pass and after placing it on my dashboard I began my walk. The sun was shining, the sky was a deep blue, only one puffy white cloud was visible. The trees shone with a green luminosity and at times the sunlight would actually change from golden to green. Yes, it has been too long since I’ve been here.
Having been out to the park over a hundred times in a year and spending many moments in reflection, bird chasing, sipping coffee, or just being in the moment, I quickly recognized many glimpses of forks in trees, tops of snags, old nests, and more. Walking around a bend in a trail and pausing, naturally, and looking through the canopy above me, I spy an old crooked snag and instantly a dozen memories of times when I’ve viewed that same snag, in early morning, in late afternoon, on hot summer day, on a rainy winter day, came to mind. As I continued to walk I became aware of grown plants that were not there before, a superficial change to the deeper identity of the mount itself.
This mount had become a place for me, as special as any other place in my history. Along these trails I’ve brought my thoughts and emotions on god, politics, my place in the world, meaning of life, outdoor hobbies, coffee and journaling, and thoughts on Naidine, Christine, Danielle, Dannille, Kat, and a few others. The jobs in my life have changed, the women in my life have changed, my political leanings have changed, my goals have changed, but this mount and myself… our relationship continues.
I thought of Eliza then and thought of our history thus far. She is like a garden to me, a wonderfully fragrant and beautiful place. But it takes time to build such complexity as what I experience in Mt Pisgah. I cannot just find another arboretum and visit it. I’d have a good time to be sure, but a place is a natural environ wherein one imbues emotional energy. Mt Pisgah is steeped in the emotions of my past. Over the last three days I’ve re-examined my relationship with Eliza, our breakup, and our getting back together, though we’ve not talked about what the getting back together means. There is a change there and it is no less so within myself as well. I had called her the day before we got back together and told her that it was okay for her to come to work. I also affirmed to her that I genuinely wanted to keep her in my life on her own merits as a unque person with qualities that I admire. That night while I gave her a ride home, and hours before we started to get back together, I listened to her tell me of her plans for the future and my admiration in her grew. It is no small thing when I say that I am proud of her. And while I was walking in the arboretum and comparing my relationship with the mount with that of Eliza, I can see how I had perhaps strayed from a legitimate path of experience with her and into more of a overly fairytale verson. In walking through the park, one is aware of the park, of the self, of the distance between the two and the wonderful interaction between the park and myself. I had been losing sight of this interaction with Eliza and losing myself into her and her world… something that is detrimental to myself, to her, and to our relationship. What makes a relationship wonderful is the differences and individuality of the two people involved and the reaction… the relationship between the two. Otherwise it would not be called a “relationship” but instead a “unification”, which doesn’t sound very promising for the growth of either involved.
I came to a meadow and managed to walk close to two turkeys and their young feeding in the meadow, their heads bobbing up over the high grass every now and then. I continued my walk up and around, taking in the sights and smells and feeling so many thoughts along so many paths cross my mind… it was like a charging of a mental battery.
Further up on the mount I chose a rocky outcropping and took off my shirt so that I might get some sun. In my bookbag I pulled out a book… Scott Peck’s The Road Less Travelled and flipped through unti something grabbed me. It was the chapter on love and as I read I laughed outloud as the words on the page seemed to mirror some of the thoughts that I had while hiking up the trail.
The sun was warm, the book was engrossing, and the scent in the air brought back memories. After an hour I headed back down the mount toward the Trooper. I walked at a leisurely pace, sent a text message to Eliza asking her out for a movie, and stopped a family on the trail to tell the little girl that there were some young turkeys up in the glade above. Further down I met a father and his young son and told them of some of the things I’ve seen. The story about the hawk attacking the woodpecker brought interest into the eyes of the kid.
Moving in and out of the trails, recalling visits past, I wanted to bring Eliza into this special place. But to bring her into this place I’d have to let her wander alone at times, at her own pace, allowing her to experience the parts of the arboretum that speak to her. Perhaps some of those moments or views or experiences would be the similar to my own. Perhaps they would be entirely unique. But to bring her to this place and let her get to know it on her own terms, on her own grounds, at her own speed, would be nearer the truth of the reason for bringing her… which would be to share the special nature of this place with her, and again a place becomes a place when it is combined with one’s own emotion and experience. Perhaps after she can call this place hers we can share a walk together, truly share a walk, exploring the sights with our own eyes and perhaps the occaisional glimpse from the viewpoint of the other. And as I thought along these lines I realized that perhaps not only was I thinking literally about a walk in the park with Eliza (or any partner) but also a walk in life in a relationship.
I am in good health and I am happy. My time with Eliza might be shorter than I know, it might be longer than I could hope for, it might take on an entirely different flavor that I cannot yet forsee. Yet one thing is crystal clear to me… and that is that within Eliza is a spirit which is entirely too rare to let pass through my life. Wherever she goes and does in her life, it is with sincere desire to keep such a spirit within my own life that I want to keep our bridges open. And it is in this overarching manner that I find the greater love for her to reside.