Photo Essay: Showing Him What Stirs My SoulFirst posted in October, 2004
Not quite a year ago, when Sam and I first met and decided to start seeing each other, we would sit in the dark, staying up too late, talking. We'd known each other for a couple of years, but we didn't really know each other at all. Not really. And so we were trying to learn as much as we could as quickly as we could to know whether or not this four thousand, four hundred, fourteen mile relationship was worth it. One of the things Sam kept coming back to was that he couldn't figure out my passion. What was it that fascinated me, what was my drive? At the time I thought it was obvious. I have many interests, but nothing consumes me the way that the aesthetics of the natural world do. I tried explaining this to him, but couldn't. I could tell he had an idea of what I was trying to convey to him, but that he didn't understand the intensity of what I felt and why I felt it. Perhaps he had too many things on his mind, or perhaps I just wasn't very good at explaining myself. And during those conversations in the dark I wished that I could show him what it was that stirred my soul. There was initially some shaky ground to cover in our relationship, and a large part of me figured that I would never share with him the special places I visit in my mind when I close my eyes. But ultimately, it happened. I took him home. People say that Alaska is the Great Land. That it is a place of unparalleled beauty. And it is beautiful; I love it here, but there are so many things I miss about home. I miss mountains that look soft at a distance but rugged underfoot. I miss land that is both wild and accessible, wilderness on a scale that can still be embraced and touched and made a part of you. The mountains here are either too far, too tall, too snowy or too low, too clogged with alder. To the north, where it's truly cold, the tundra is so fragile that I worry about every single footfall and long for the mossy stream banks and sturdy boulder fields of home. Unfortunately, my home is full of people. There is no escaping them, except by stepping onto a trail. That was my reason for heading home: to explore the familiar paths, find the favorite spots - and to share them with someone I love. To show someone who cared about me exactly what it is that stirs me. I knew Sam was open to it in a way that, before now, only friends and acquaintances understood. In previous relationships, men either weren't interested in spending time in the forest or they did it all the time and took it for granted. Nobody ever saw it quite the way I do. But I think he does.