when i through-hiked the colorado trail during the summer of 2010, my hiking companions and i became masters of the colorado trail tango. it was a silly little dance, a love/hate relationship. of the 28 segments spanning about 500 miles from denver to durango, the first quarter consisted of long slow hours climbing to the tops of passes steadily gaining elevation. once we reached the top, we’d see our final destination for the night sometimes thousands of feet below our current viewpoint which always meant descending in short mileage down rocky, steep terrain. it was frustrating to know that you spent your hard day’s work climbing only to quickly lose elevation and worse knowing that the next day held a similarly long climb ahead. it was a tedious motion, though often beautiful and sometimes intense (passing above treeline during lightning storms, worrying that snow fields might block your path, praying for your knee cartilage to hold up for just one more day). it became so consistent with each day’s itinerary that eventually, we gave in. looking down, we’d lengthen our hiking poles, tighten our boots, and embrace the downward steps of the ct tango (it’s sort of like a combination of the electric slide and the ymca while carrying a third of your body weight on your back and not showering for weeks at a time. sort of like that).
other than the up and down ct two-step, i’ve never been one for dancing. sure, like any girl who can get away with being called “angelina ballerina” i’ve dreamed of sculpted men tossing me into the air, but in reality, i just don’t have “it.” i dance like the tiny knobby-kneed white girl that i am. i dance like everyone’s watching (because they are, like a car crash. seriously, i just referenced the electric slide and ymca in the same sentence so clearly everything i know about dance was learned from weddings, bat mitzvahs or re-runs of full house. i literally just learned about gangham style two weeks ago. my mother knew about it before me and she calls puff daddy “p-diddily”).
it wasn’t until the beginning of this year, after the obligatory january reflection on my life, that i realized i’ve been dancing around something else for a long time: commitment.
commitment is word that scares me all by itself. for example, why are there so many “m”s in the spelling? and why is there sometimes an extra “t” depending on the tense? it’s weird enough alone without any definition behind it. it might as well have a silent “k” or something. throw in the association with relationships, careers, or anything in the future tense, and i’m already searching for a way out.
as for relationships, i don’t need to remind you that a few months ago i freely admitted to choosing sunsets over boys. in my eyes, i’m currently in a long distance relationship with mt. kilimanjaro (and the only reason that’s working out is because i know we’ll both be ready to move on this time next year). but my sister is always trying to set me up with her bachelor friends. by setting me up, i really mean she usually just tells me that there’s some guy on instagram she’s been following and we should totally date. she’ll tell me to go hit on the cute bartender or sometimes actually introduces me. they are always attractive and interesting and i’m sure very promising candidates, but i claim they are too nice, or too bicycle-obsessed, or too short, or too tall or too. the reality is i just don’t care. i would love to date one of them if i didn’t have to commit to anything, or make any effort, or eventually marry them. i just don’t know what i want. maybe i want a boyfriend. maybe i want to leave tomorrow and go to austraila or antarctica or the moon. i’m already in one long distance relationship, i don’t dare start another (and by don’t dare, i mean i would totally dare if it was convenient for me and there were no expectations and no one’s feelings got hurt when i decide to leave them for a mountain).
slide to the left.
as for career, this is far more confusing because i actually do care. seeing as i didn’t go to college to find a husband (fashion school? yes it is as feminine as it sounds), i actually have to make a living for myself. i win the bread, i bring home the bacon, i wear the pants (except well, when i don’t. pants are stupid). so it’s safe to say i consider myself an ambitious person. i’ve always thought i’d have a successful career, work my way up the ladder (whatever that means) and hopefully someday start my own company. but looking back at my resume, i’ve quit every great job i’ve had in order to go play outside. i’ve found work/life balance in the most extreme of ways- work hard, save your money, quit, play hard, spend your money, find a job. lather, rinse, repeat. it’s not much of a balance, but that’s how i was able to learn the ct tango. it gave me a chance to dance with manzanas in peru. it’s how i boogied on back to colorado last spring. luckily after each adventure, i’m always ready to jump back into my career. i can’t seem to commit to being a vagabond full time, but i never stay at a job long enough to even find the ladder.
two hops this time.
as far as anything in the future tense, i really mean anything. i hate signing leases. i don’t like taking out loans. i cried for weeks after getting a tattoo because it was just so permanent (yes, i still love it three years later). i have a hard time confirming plans for next weekend because what if (fill in crazy, obscure, unlikely situation here)?
take it back now, ya’ll.
so here i am, right on schedule, feeling overly committed to the life i’ve started here. my lease isn’t up until august, i have car payments and student loans, i’m starting to create a social life, all signs that it’s time for me to leave. the beat is getting louder every day. i’m feeling unfulfilled, bored, stagnant. but instead of the normal get-up-and-go dance, this time is different. i don’t actually want to leave. this time, i still want colorado. i still want late nights with my mom and arguments with my sister that guys actually can be “too nice.” i want to watch my brother’s band play live. i want to climb 14ers with friends i’ve known since i was 12. i want to keep dating rocky mountain sunsets. i want to stay.
so i’m going to try. i’m going to try and be more accepting. i’m going to try and worry less. i’m going to try finding real balance. i’m going to try for stability. i’m going to try something i’ve never done before: commit.
cha cha real smooth (or as smooth as a tiny, knobby-kneed, wanderlust, vagabond, career woman can be).