"And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." Joel 2:28

Monday, January 22, 2018

~Blue&Lavender~ WILL by Anne Lauren

We are on our last day for Anne Lauren blog tour. 
Please enjoy her post WILL.

Yosemite Valley with Phoebe and Ericka.
It was going to rain. Nervously, I called Phoebe, “Hey! So, I know that we planned on hiking Cloud’s Rest in Yosemite this weekend, but the weather report predicts rain, so we’re canceling right?” Phoebe, originally from New York, responded lividly, “OMG, ANNE! You are such a California weather brat! We are not letting a little rain keep us from pursuing our dream!” Skeptically I replied, “OK...I guess I’ll see you on Friday then.”

Friday quickly came and I arrived at Phoebe’s apartment tired and doubtful that this would be a fun weekend. Four of us were supposed to make the four hour trek from Palo Alto to Yosemite in Phoebe’s old, basically two-seater, silver Toyota pick-up truck. However, one of the women dropped out of the trip due to heartache: she had just been broken up with. According to Phoebe, this was a justifiable reason to bail last minute, so she was spared from the verbal shaming and allowed not to come. The remaining three of us, Phoebe, Ericka, and I, headed to the parking lot.

We opened the back hatch to put in our luggage and immediately I saw a variety of large weights. Being from Newport Beach and never having driven a truck or really experienced bad weather, I naively asked, “What are those for?” Phoebe rolled her eyes and retorted like it was no big deal, “They keep the truck’s weight evenly distributed so it doesn’t spin out on the ice.” “Greeeaaattt,” I thought, “14-miles in the rain AND a chance of spinning off the road? This is exhilarating!” I rolled my eyes in return and nuzzled into the tight cabin of the car.
The infamous truck.
Four hours later, we arrived at the Yosemite bug, an awesome and inexpensive hostel about thirty minutes outside of Yosemite Valley. We slid into our bunks early, hoping for a good night’s rest so that we were energized the next morning and prepared for the 14-mile hike that none of us had trained for. After a night full of snoring and flatulating from the other hostel mates (the three of us definitely did not contribute ;-), we arose early still groggy and got on the road. I was too lazy to walk to the kitchen and fill up my water bottle, confident that Yosemite would provide a fountain at the trailhead.

We arrived to the trailhead with no water fountain, drops beginning to trickle from the sky and began our 14-mile walk waterless. The road started pretty flat, but quickly escalated into steep and rocky terrain. Phoebe sensed my thirsty despair and in an effort to distract me, started to tell a terribly long story called, “The 'Tis Bottle.” I will spare you the lengthy details of this fictional tale about an animal in search of a bottle to complete a handmade instrument so that it could play “My Country 'Tis a Thee” without interruption. Well, though the story was terribly long and even more terribly boring, it did keep my mind focused on Phoebe’s enthusiastic voice and unbreakable spirit. Her story got me through the first three miles.

By mile five we were soaked: our food, spare clothes, snacks, and toilet paper were all drenched. We stopped to ask ourselves if we wanted to continue forward. We had two miles before we arrived at Cloud’s Rest with a remarkable view, and seven miles to get back. All three of us expressed the desire to go home, but all three of us also expressed the stronger desire to beat this rainstorm and finish what we had started. We were willful women and, as Phoebe threatened me over the phone a few days before, we weren’t going to let a little bit of rain keep us from completing this journey. So Ericka, the cheerleader of the group, encouraged us to keep going, and keep going we did.

Then suddenly we were there! So excited to see the view, I ran ahead legs shaking, thirst unquenched, mind focused. I got to the top of this famous peak and saw...NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY F***ING NOTHING! You can see from the picture below what we saw when we arrived: more clouds resting on the mountain top that was supposed to be a view worth hiking 14 miles for. Surprisingly, I was everything but disappointed. I felt that arriving to this place was a sacred moment, like I was apart of something much bigger than myself. Many before me had made it this far and many had not. I sensed how high up I was even if I couldn’t see. There was a majesty to that space and I had made it there.

The foggy top of Cloud's Rest.
Freezing and thirsty, we didn’t stay in this ceremonious place long. There was still more to do: seven miles to walk back. By the time we got to the car, we were exhausted, frustrated, and wet to the bone, as most of the journey we were convinced we were lost. Grateful we weren't, I jumped in the front seat, took off all my clothes except my bra and thong, and rested for one moment before I became immediately aware of how bad I had to pee. There was a restroom at the trailhead, but it was about a 100 yards from the car and I was not going to put my wet clothes back on. Subversively I shouted, “Ladies, I’m running to the bathroom in my underwear!” I had just hiked 14-miles in the rain after all; I was clearly invincible. I jumped from the vehicle and much to my surprise quickly felt naked and desperately self-conscious. Intuitively, I started screaming, grabbed one butt check with each hand, and sprinted for cover. Naturally, I also repeated this process on my way back. When I returned my nude and relieved rear end to the front seat, I was happy to discover Phoebe and Ericka laughing hysterically. They thanked me for the comic relief that was so necessary to ease the physical pain and psychological fatigue of what we just accomplished. We inserted a Gavin Degraw CD into the ancient sound system and drove back to the bug.

What the view should've looked like.
I tell you this story, one, because it's hilarious and, two, because it reminds me a lot of the recovery process. I didn't want to ever have to recover from sexual abuse. I wanted a bright and sunny childhood like all my friends had, but my childhood was wet and gloomy. Like this hike, I survived and recovered because I willed to do it. Like this hike, I survived and recovered because I had friends who were more knowledgable and more positive than I teaching me to challenge my comfort zones, distracting me from the difficulty, cheering me on from the sidelines, and reminding me to pursue my dreams. Like this hike, comic relief served as an imperative tool to ease the pain.

So tired, yet so proud.
Today, I feel much like I did when I arrived to Cloud's Rest. I worked way too hard to get to a place without a view. I still have little insight into who I am or where I am going and most days I still feel lost. Everything hurts. But there's something in me that tells me that this place is sacred: I have arrived; I am safe, healthy, and happy; I am going to be OK. There is a majesty to this moment that I need to take in even if I can't see it. In this process I am apart of something so much bigger than myself: so many have been here before me and so many have yet to arrive. I still have a long way to go in the recovery process, miles in fact. And in those miles, Phoebe and Ericka, I promise to push and to distract and to cheer and to laugh with everyone else I meet on this journey until we all arrive to a place where we are safe, healthy, and happy. In our case, it was to the Yosemite Bug and all of our flatulating roommates (which may or may not have just been me!).
The survivors.
Now, when Cloud's Rest is brought up in casual conversation, the three of us first wince and then smile. To this day, it is one of the worst and the best weekends of my life. Thanks for the adventure, ladies. Here's to many more!


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