I like my little office setup. It’s secluded for concentration and yet still in the center of our condo so I can do my daily house duties. I think the entire house is lacking a bit in greenery, but that’s a whole other conversation. Believe it or not, I do try to focus in my ramblings here.
With that said, I like to take breaks from writing SEO laden articles and engaging in excited social media commentary so that I can come back down to my real world as it exists on the Internet, my blog.
Stark and I just celebrated our one year anniversary. I have never had a proper anniversary before. Rather, I attempted one once after spending a year as an option but truth be told even after 3 1/2 years we never could celebrate any sort of commitment. Hence the reason why that is over and blessed be whatever reasoning I can attribute to being with Stark today.
I have always said two things about relationships in the past and I do not claim to be right, but I have always suggested a) break up at least once, it’s good for you (which doesn’t always have to be literal – this can be defined as give yourself time apart, space, etc.) and b) life is like a road trip, so take a trip and figure it out. For our ‘Year 1’ we went on our first road trip as just the two of us. In fact, this was our first trip alone together where we did not drag work with us, have work to attend to, travel with someone else, or have someone else we were traveling to see. These are all musts in realizing the whole “life is like a roadtrip” analogy.
Wednesday was our actual anniversary. Neither of us really thought the other person had anything planned, which was fine. We both assumed that the weekend would be our celebration. We tend to be fairly laid back on the whole obligation of giving each other things on particular dates or for particular reasons. I find this keeps the expectations and emotional reactions low sort of like expecting the worst to realize the best. Except it’s not really that negative. Instead, we accept how awesome our day to day lives already are and neither of us really perceive a need for anything more than a break every now and then. But, Stark swept me off my feet as soon as midnight Tuesday night.
At midnight we happened to find ourselves walking the streets of Salt Lake City since the night was warm and neither of us felt like watching Game Show Network reruns. There was no plan in our destination until Stark pointed out that it was midnight, marking the first minute of our official anniversary. At that point we decided to walk to the restaurant in which we had our first date – the Hapa Taqueria. The restaurant has since closed but our table still sat outside, abandoned. Stark took the table and repositioned it to the corner we had found ourselves sitting in a year prior. Both of us pretended to sit in imaginary seats and giggled as we mimicked the first impressions of ourselves – me, entirely shy and unable to make any real eye contact with someone I do not know well. It was on the walk home that Stark admitted to me that he had made plans for later that day (Wednesday) for our actual anniversary. A bit surprised, I had to admit that I had plans to in hopes that we were not planning the same thing.
Wednesday evening was spent entirely together. Although we both worked hard in the morning – I had a videoshoot to be in and Stark had half a dozen phone calls that day – I took Stark with me to run some “errands” later that evening. I left him at the Sugarhouse Barnes and Noble where he waited for me while I did my thing. Within the hour I returned with an entire Orange Poppyseed cake – his favorite from the Dodo Restaurant. I have never seen him so elated. Like a kid he took the cake in his arms and immediately opened it with a look of total surprise and longing on his face. Together we sat, sharing one fork and digging in to the deep, set frosting. We weren’t even able to finish what would have been one piece of this huge cake.
From there, Stark had planned an evening out on the town and I had chilled my favorite champagne. Stark noted that a year ago he had met me in his parking garage where I had decided we should hang out at random. As we walked out of the garage where we first met, he gave me the option of either having tapas or tacos. My reaction? I asked him to repeat the question. As he said it again, I stood there starring at him as if he had said something completely foreign. I totally did not grasp the word “tapas” and was afraid to ask him to repeat himself again and again. With that, I chose tacos – easily pronounced and just as easily eaten. This year, Stark stole my heart again with words as simple as “It’s time to take the second path.” The statement seemed to encompass so much more than the offer to have tapas this time. To me, we really were entering a different road. For me, it’s the road less traveled. For me, it is a place I have never been comfortable going with anyone for no other reason then it’s unpredictable and different.
The night was magical. We sat outside at Eva’s. I had never been there before. We joked about how things may have been if I had chosen tapas rather than tacos. In my opinion, tacos was the more laid back option with far less assumptions than a place as romantic as Eva’s back alley. I gazed at the dozen or more Asian lanterns hanging above us as we shared a dozen dishes from the menu – taking delight in anything we felt like having. I proposed that we play a game. Together we repeated the basics of a first date – what are your hobbies, what do you do for a living – in reverse rolls. It was my job to explain to Stark my perception of his lifestyle, his hobbies, and his career. It was his job to do the same for me.
The next day we were off on our road trip adventure after a full morning of work. I wasn’t worried that we would drive in awkward silence or argue, but I was genuinely curious as to how this time together might play out in comparison to our everyday lives. All in all, the drive amplified everything I love about the two of us. Stark diligently worked as necessary while I drove. We stopped only as necessary and, above all else, we sang out loud. Our roadtrip mix consisted of a strange variety of laugh-out-loud music. Stark introduced me to Linkin Park vs. Jay Z where I then taught him all the moves to popular Jay Z songs. Together we “brushed that dirt off [our] shoulders” while cruising through Southern Utah.
We drove straight to Zions Mountain Ranch. This is where we’d be staying Thursday night through Sunday morning. We arrived after dark, just in time for the latest check in. Friday morning we slept as long as we wanted and then drove into Zions National Park where we had hamburgers and hot dogs at the Zions Lodge. We spent the afternoon hiking to the Lower Emerald Pools and Weeping Rock before taking on the life threatening Angel’s Landing – a hike that I was preparing for a year ago before I broke my ankle and spent the rest of summer in recovery. I told Stark that no matter how long it would take me, I was going to go to the top. At that point I perceived that it might take me a good seven hours to do this hike. Instead, we were right on schedule with the average hiking speed and conquered the entire mountain in just three hours. The pathway was treacherous. There were moments that I knew I should be more scared than determined. My footing was not always sure and as predicted, I was the one to slip two or three times. I pushed forward though and took in the view at the top as if it might be the last thing I see in my lifetime. To me, coming down was the hardest part. The muscles surrounding my knees and ankle are not yet 100% and the constant impact of walking down such a steep hill made me feel a bit out of control. But we made it! We celebrated our achievement by being the only two people at the Spotted Dog (a restaurant in Springdale) that seemed to have hiked anything that day.
Saturday we drove in to Springdale for an amazing lunch at Cafe Soleil. I think Stark is in love with cordon bleu paninis enough to make the drive again. Afterwards, we drove straight to Bryce. When we came to the intersection of Lake Powell versus Bryce, we flipped a coin as to where we should go. I have absolutely no regrets that we spent the whole afternoon in Bryce. We hiked the Navajo/Garden loop where I was able to see the Grand Staircase. We went to the Sunrise, Sunset, and Bryce Canyon viewpoints. Then we ended the evening by hiking the Tower Bridge. We were able to stop at the Bryce Canyon Lodge for a quick dinner just before the 9pm meeting requirement for anyone willing to join the Bryce Canyon “Dark Rangers” for some night sky viewing. We watched a presentation called the Unseen Universe with an awesome ranger who retired to pursue his hobby as a dark ranger. By 10pm we were among the first in line to spend the evening viewing the stars through various telescope setups. We saw nebulas, galaxies, Saturn, Mars, and so much more I cannot even describe. This was my first time viewing the night sky through a telescope and I was stoked! Everything was different from what I had imagined and everyone there was passionate about the stars. Together we sat in the parking lot, looking at Scorpius like we had done from our cabin the night before. Somewhere in the tail of Scorpius lies my star, Caz*, bought and named for me during the first time Stark and I ever had to spend any real time apart.
By the end of the evening there were only three of us left viewing stars and talking to the rangers. It was just a few minutes to midnight when I pointed out to Stark that this third guy we were with may have been Maynard, from Tool/Perfect Circle/Puscifer. In the dark of the night, the guy looked to be Maynard’s size and wore a hat much like the hat Maynard insists on wearing at every Puscifer concert. He was laid back. He called himself an amateur astronomer and admitted he lived just a few hours away in Arizona, home to Maynard’s wine fields. The more we listened to the guy talk, the more we were determined that it was him.
Stark drove us home that night and I could barely stay awake after hiking 14 miles over two days and staying up with the stars. Sunday morning we drove back to Cafe Soleil, this time for breakfast. From there we made our way to Las Vegas where we spent the last 24 hours staying at the Mandarin Oriental, hidden away from the strip.
To me, our adventure was well worth it. Each moment was spent being entirely ourselves – supporting each other through what seemed to be impossible (hiking) and laughing our way through anything that could be perceived as boring or negative (meals, hotels, driving). Above all I am thankful to spend such time with my very best friend, doing things that I have always wanted to do with someone special to my heart and significant in my life. Stark is right. From here on out is a second path and if I am right about road trips emulating life, then I am sure we will travel this second path with determination and silliness. As individuals we are both amazing people with so much to offer. Together, we are an unstoppable force with powers yet to be determined. I am so blessed and so lucky to travel through life with my partner in crime.