This is the story of a wedding, a road trip and finding direction.
We set out at the crack of dawn to drive north on a damp icky September morning. It was actually 9:30, but it felt earlier because it was Saturday. We were on our way to a wedding, in Lake Placid. ON Lake Placid. In the cold. In the rain.
It was a lovely ceremony, I’m sure, but I couldn’t really see it for all the umbrellas.
So we set out, me with my coffee, my sister toting a stack of documents she planned to work on in her spare time (3 am). I rarely mention my sister because I don’t seem capable of capturing her accurately in words. I can’t seem to do her justice.
Justice is important to her. And order too. She’s a lawyer, but not with me. Usually. Unless I need her to go to court with me, which has happened. It was Wilderness Dad’s fault that I was patted down, finger printed and treated like a common criminal, but that’s a story for another day.
She’s important to me. She’s my favorite.
And we’re different, particularly in the matter of direction.
Her life has always had direction. She knows where she is going, how she’s getting there and why it’s a good idea. She has goals set. Numbers in columns. Plans. I suspect she even writes these things down.
But without her GPS, she’ll get lost coming to my house. She’s directionally challenged.
I don’t have a plan. I don’t know for sure where I want to go. My goals keep changing. I too am directionally challenged. I don’t know what I’m doing next week, forget about five years.
I like to be surprised.
I’m an excellent navigator and can find my way around a strange city with ease. I once drove all night from NY to Florida (without a map) because she needed me. She would do the same for me (as long as she had her GPS). Right now she’s saying, “No, Aim, I wouldn’t,” but she would.
Our conversation on the 5 hour ride to Lake Placid went something like this:
Me: Did you know that vent vent vent vent. What an @ss!
Her: Yeah, well, vent vent vent vent. Who does sh*t like that?
Me: I know! Right? And who the f*$% do they think they are?
Her: Well, just wait. Vent vent #($& %#(@!
For the record, we were not talking about our husbands.
We talk a lot of trash when we get together. And we get way deep after a while. And we curse like truck drivers the whole time, because it’s fun.
We laughed over how hard it was to buy a card for our soon-to-be-married-cousin. Hallmark packs those cards with mushy sentimentalism. I couldn’t bring myself to buy it and give it away with a straight face.
All I wanted to say was Good Luck.
Hey, marriage is no walk in a garden by the lake. It just starts that way.
Around 2pm, we turned off the highway and headed down the winding road that leads to Lake Placid. My gas gauge said 0 miles to empty. No worries, right? Course not.
The trusty GPS lady told us the next gas station was 25 miles away.
The mountains started building up around us as we drove, higher and more intense, colors like I have never seen and couldn’t seem to capture with my camera.
It was magnificent. Suddenly, this all felt like an adventure.
I raved on and on about the beauty of the mountains. Did you see that river over there and isn’t this a cute little town and why the hell don’t they have a gas station!?
I stopped to take a picture of an amazing cliff that I thought we might drive straight into and was nearly crushed to death by mountain folk in a pick-up flying down the road like they were late to banjo practice.
But it’s a good shot!
Eh, not so much.
We found a gas station exactly 25 miles after my car informed me I had 0 miles to empty. I drive a lying minivan.
We had an hour to get to the hotel, change and get to the wedding. In the rain.
I put on a little black dress and beautiful lacy black shoes. She tried on two dresses. I told her to wear the one with the ruffle, which ensured that she would not. She chose the dress with sharp lines claiming that people might mistake her for someone nice if she wore something soft.
Mom wore a knock-out red dress. I decided not stand next to her in pictures.
I drank red wine and tried not to let my heels sink into the soaked grass at the ceremony by leaning all of my weight forward on my toes. Have you ever done this? It’s painful.
My feet cramped up and I gave in, letting my 3 inch heels sink down into the turf. Have you ever done this? I couldn’t balance. Shivering in the freezing rain, I spent the entire ceremony trying not to fall over.
Adventure, I tell you. That’s what it’s all about.
The next morning, we left in a deep fog (for real, not just in my head, but there too) at the crack of dawn. Dawn comes later (7:30) when you’re that high up in the mountains.
Driving out of town, through the mountains covered in a deep mist, I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to hike to the highest spot that I could reach without passing out. I wanted to scale cliffs. I wanted to try the bobsleds, the luge (no, not really). I wanted to sit on the edge of a mountain and stare into the lake until my eyes ached.
I wanted to be surrounded by the amazing living color forever and ever.
Instead, we drove home.
We discussed at length how women are so naturally better than men. We’re stronger than them emotionally and intellectually. And maybe all men just need to be out building things up and knocking stuff down all day and leave the rest to us.
Oh, come on, I’m joking.
We concluded that we are both pretty much brilliant.
We made it home without getting lost, because I followed my inner compass. I even had a moment of clarity about the direction of my own life. I could see the road ahead, the future stretched out before me like a map.
I made a plan.
I knew in that moment exactly what I was going to make for dinner.