Reverb14 is a prompt-a-day series for the month of December designed to reflect on 2014 and project hopes and dreams for 2015. Throughout December,Sarah, Kat and I will post each day with a new prompt. Join us by writing, or join us by reading. Follow us on Twitter @project_reverb and #reverb14.
Leap of Faith| What decision did you make this year that was a leap of faith? Did it work out? Or not?
It began in the wee hours on Monday morning, 24th of November.
I’d gone to bed just after midnight, in my half-unpacked new apartment, due to leave for California for Thanksgiving that evening. I was missing my long-dead grandfather for no discernible reason. He had been gone for nine and a half years, and yet I was overcome with the desire to send him photos of Roo; to tell him about Paul; and, to tell him to his face: Look, your being dead has been highly inconvenient for me.
He would’ve laughed at that.
I went to sleep and woke up with a start around 2.30am. The house was silent, then I heard hysterical laughter. My grandfather’s distinctive laugh. And then it was quiet again.
I hadn’t heard Bop’s raucous laugh in a decade and still, there was no mistaking it. It was like the laughter was trying to tell me something, and I didn’t yet know what.
I flew to Los Angeles that night, and the next morning was getting ready to leave for the drive to Yosemite National Park, where my family spends Thanksgiving (and indeed, has spent the last 31 Thanksgivings.) I mentioned the story about Bop to my mother, who was a True Believer in the supernatural, so virtually nothing was too batshit for her. Whereas I was feeling marginally self-conscious about being the type of person who had just heard her dead grandfather laughing in the night, my mother was the type of person who whole-heartedly embraced that sort of thing.
Of course, my mother said, I’ve been feeling Bop nearby too. As if what I had just told her was the most normal thing in the world.
There was nothing more I could say to that, so I began to blow-dry my hair and got ready for the long drive to Wawona.
Paul and I drove to Yosemite, and were planning for a Big Hike in Yosemite Valley the next morning. I thought nothing of this, because we’d discussed doing this the year prior, and hadn’t gotten ’round to it. But he was pushing the idea again this year, and asked me to plan it, so I did. (And if you have ever run a race or done a Sierras climb with me, you know that this is my specialty). We had initially settled on Half Dome, but after further consideration, decided upon Upper Yosemite Falls.
At 5.30am on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we set out for Yosemite Valley from Wawona, and embarked on a Big Hike.
And so we climbed.
We didn’t talk much on that first mile up. It was early, and cold. And I was thinking a little on how Paul and I had met. It was the end of May 2013, and I had been in Scotland for the Edinburgh Half Marathon. I had been dating a Random Finance Guy, and the relationship clearly wasn’t going anywhere.
In the course of hanging out with a friend who was also in Edinburgh for racing; eating Mexican near the University (shockingly, not half bad); waiting in a hotel room for the northern sun to set around 10.30pm; and, running in the sunshine along the North Sea, I had sent a message to Random Finance Guy calling it quits. He wanted to be a senator, and had told me time and time again that I wasn’t senator’s wife material.
I didn’t want to be with someone for whom I wasn’t enough. Again.
After the race, I left Edinburgh and went back to London to see PG, and then flew back to New York. And I listened to my mother moan at me for breaking it off with Random Finance Guy because No one is just going to walk into your office and sweep you off your feet. You need to put yourself out there.
That following Friday, Paul walked into my office for a meeting.
We’d talked on the phone and by email for some time — his firm had done work with my company for years, and I’d worked with him on a few projects. But we’d never met. And he was looking to talk to me about some European directive, however, the conversation never got that far. Instead, we spent an hour or so talking about life and friends and California and how we’d both been to Easter Island.
At the end of the meeting, he said he was in town for the weekend, and asked for some suggestions on what he should do. I gave him some and wondered if he was asking me out. But at the end of the meeting when no date was forthcoming, I shrugged it off.
I would later learn that Irish men are oblivious.
He emailed the following Monday, confessing his obliviousness, and asking me out. He booked a trip back to New York, and…on a leap of faith, I booked a trip to Dublin. From there, it wasn’t all smooth sailing (for instance, we didn’t really get along that first weekend), but we’d been together ever since.
So fast forward a year and a half or so to the present day, there we were, climbing the trickling falls above Yosemite Valley in the place nearest and dearest to my heart. It was the place I sought shelter in times of trouble. It was the place I went to feel triumphant.
Look at that view, Paul remarked, a couple of hours into the climb.
Gosh, it’s gorgeous.
I pulled out my phone and snapped the view. I had been taking photos all the way up, but this particular vista seemed especially breathtaking.
When I turned back around to him on the trail, he was, down on one knee, asking me to marry him.
Of course, I said yes.
And then I knew immediately why I’d heard that laughing in the night earlier in the week.
To borrow a cliché, they say that a second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience. But I don’t necessarily look at it that way. I would say that I waited my whole life to meet someone who I don’t have to explain myself to; who is perfectly receptive to my batshit suggestions like Let’s go to Japan, and then doing it; who knew my heart so well that he proposed in the Sierras halfway through a strenuous hike, with Half Dome in view.
I would say that this is the sum of experience and a hopeful willingness to look stupid with someone.
One might even call it a leap of faith.