All together now

We had had a a number of good conversations during the first few days of our trip, but I think it was on Wednesday that I perceived a strong need to express how I was feeling after being together basically 24/7 for five straight days.

See, I am essentially an introvert, and I’m married to a card-carrying extrovert.  Not only are Scott and I wired quite differently in this respect, we each tend to live at the far extremes of the introversion/extroversion spectrum.

We had been having a blast traveling together, exploring Yosemite together, cooking and eating meals together, doing clean ups together, driving together, planning excursions together, grocery shopping together, talking together, watching movies together, etc.  Especially etc.  So we were a very happy couple, and I think we were both thinking, “Hey, this empty nest stuff is looking better all the time!”  (This was a pleasant change from the dread I think we had both been experiencing a year or two ago.)

The problem I was having was that I just wasn’t getting any alone time to re-charge my emotional battery, and even though I love Scott very much and truly enjoy being with him, at home in the evenings I am used to having some time to go to my computer and veg and unwind uninterrupted – even by hugs and kisses – while he is occupied at his computer.  For an hour or so, he does his thing and I do mine, and all is well.

For a number of very good reasons, I had decided not to bring my computer on this trip, and I have no regrets about that decision.  For a solid week, I never even looked at my email!  I did have nearly a hundred messages when I got home, but for those eight days, I was blissfully oblivious.  We did, of course, have Scott’s computer (“Don’t leave home without it.”), so he did do Rendezvous stuff and we were able to look up all kinds of stuff online, and I think he did some facebooking, but the only thing I did on the computer was a bit of blogging.  The deal was that someone had to occupy himself in some other way while the other spousal unit used the computer, so I did sometimes feel that, “I need to get off of here and go do something with Scott.”  Also, we couldn’t both relax on the computer at the end of the day.

The combination of all that togetherness, absolutely no aloneness, and having only limited access to my primary “toy,” left me feeling stressed and anxious.  I decided to talk with Scott about this.  Unfortunately, I guess I waited a little too long, because I was pretty overwhelmed and almost crying when I brought it up, but that’s OK; I am gradually getting better at stuff like this.  = )

A couple years ago, I was seriously dreading the empty nest phase.  I was wondering what we had in common and thinking that another 20 or 30 years totally alone together was going to be pretty rough.  A lot of counseling and a lot of God’s incredible grace over the past year or so had changed all that, and the joy of the first few days of this trip had been the icing on the “Wow! It’s gonna be great when all the kids are own their own” cake, but suddenly the reality of the potential strain of decades of total togetherness was crashing in pretty violently.

I explained to Scott how I was feeling and that I really needed at least a modicum of alone time to recharge my emotional battery.  He understood!  He was fine with that!  We arranged to spend most of our remaining vacation time together and some small portions of it alone, with each of us doing his own thing, and that ended up working out very well.  It relieved the pressure of feeling that I HAD to do EVERYTHING with Scott, and when I don’t feel pressured, I’m a much happier person and a better wife.  Ahhhhh!

Having agreed to spend at least a bit of time not exclusively in each other’s personal space, I was able to relax and enjoy the rest of our wonderful week.  We had determined that Thursday would be our final trip into Yosemite National Park, and by this time the drive there and the various features of the valley had become old friends.  We pretty well knew what we did and didn’t want to do there, so we were able to be focused, which was nice for two people who both like to make a plan and carry it out.

One thing we knew we did not want to do was Mirror Lake.  We had attempted to explore Mirror Lake on our Tuesday bike hike, and I think I forgot to wrote about it.  Since it was truly blog-worthy, I shall insert it here.

We had been riding for about an hour and were totally enjoying the perfect weather and beautiful scenery when Scott, who was leading as usual, turned us off the bike path onto a road that wove through the pines and began climbing slightly.  There were signs (!) indicating that Mirror Lake was 1/2 mile ahead, but the road was getting steeper and I was pretty sure that soon I would have to get off and walk the bike.  Just at that point, there appeared a turnout with a bike rack and a sign stating that, due to the steep incline, rental bikes were not allowed any further on Mirror Lake Road.

The idea of Mirror Lake was rather intriguing, so we parked our bikes and began slowly walking up the hill.  It was an uphill somewhat reminiscent of the now-infamous Mist Trail, but with only 1/4 mile to go, I was sure I could make it.  Make it we did, and at the top of the rise, there were benches and a bathroom and more signage and a couple of cars with disabled cards hanging from their rearview mirrors.  The only private vehicles allowed on Mirror Lake Road are those transporting disabled people.

So I’m looking at the signs up there, and they explain that there was recently a rockslide that blocked the walking path around Mirror Lake, so that trail and trail that it accesses are currently closed.  It would have been a sad thing to not be able to walk around Mirror Lake, but the sadder thing was that there WAS no Mirror Lake to walk around.  In front of us was a large depression in the ground that was full of grasses of various kinds.  THAT was Mirror Lake!!!  It was – just like virtually everything else in the area – completely and totally dry.  Ugh!

Disgusted with ourselves for not having figured that out before climbing the hill, we walked back down to our bikes.  However, here’s the thing that really got to me.  As we had been walking up, many people had passed us walking down, and not one of them had had the courtesy to say (in English or in any other language), “There’s no water in the lake!”  I, for one, would have greatly appreciated having that information prior to our ascent, so I decided  I would be the one to buck the trend.

We saw a family hiking up.  They were of South American or possibly Middle Eastern descent, and their four or five kids ranged from about three to maybe ten years of age.  As they approached us on their upward trek, I called out, “There’s no water up there.”

“What?” replied the husband.  “No water?”

“No.  The lake up there is empty and dry.  There’s no water in it at all.”

“So. . . no mirror?”

“No.  No mirror.  No water.  The lake is just a round place full of long grass.”

“Well!”  He turned to his wife and said something in another language, and then to me, “Thank you very much for telling us!”  And they headed back down.

My overriding thought was, “Good has been done!”

Proud of myself, I walked back down to the bikes and took a swig of water from my bottle, which, as usual, Scott was carrying for my in his red belt bag.  While he also got a drink, I pulled out of his belt bag our little Yosemite Valley brochure – the brochure we had carried around with us for two days; the brochure we paged through while eating breakfast; the same one that showed where the picnic areas and bike stands and hiking trails were; yes, that brochure – and flipped to the blurb about Mirror Lake.  Right there in black and white, it clearly stated, “Mirror Lake is usually dry in late summer and early fall.”

I suddenly felt much less proud of myself!


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