For me, love is a mountain range. A mountain range of endless peaks. Some taller, some smaller, some wider, some thinner, some with rounded tops, some pointed. Some covered in snow, some in trees, some merely rock. Some with steep inclines and rocky declines. But regardless of the topography, the peaks remain. Some behind you and some still to come for a true hike is long and challenging. Sometimes you’ll want to turn around and go back to your favorite overlook. Sometimes the panoramic mountain view will seem so far away. Sometimes you may not even understand why you are climbing the mountain until you get back down from the peak. Sometimes, you won’t even know you’re on a peak. Sometimes the smaller peaks will present the biggest awe.
For me, love is feeling crisp air brush against your face when you forgot to breathe on your own first. It’s seeing towering trees when you need to remember you aren’t the grandest and most central soul in the world. It’s hearing animals and critters trod around when you need to remember you are not alone. It’s scraping your knee and twisting your ankle on rugged terrain. It’s the hiking boots that protect you when you decide you’re strong and excited enough to keep going. It’s the weight of your backpack, heavy with tears, anger, pain, but also memories, laughter, smiles, kisses, cuddles by the campfire and sunset drives. It’s a grey cloud blending in with a grey sky when you need to remember you’re not not in the darkness alone. It’s the sunbeams piercing through the trees when you learn something new about each other. It’s the trailhead sign for every new milestone you reach together. It’s the slight decline when you’ve been working hard enough. It’s the ledge above a river when you are ready to test the waters together because you’re not afraid to freeze if it means you can jump together. It’s the sound of a waterfall when cooling off is all you needed to restore yourself. It’s looking down from the top at the valleys, roads, and peaks and acknowledging the journey to where you are. It’s looking up at the sky so close you could touch it and quite literally paint your silver lining.
For me, love is a challenge. A reminder. A reward. A verb. A noun. An adjective. A scent. A touch. A feeling. A friend. A support system. A pain in the butt. A lesson. But most of all, it’s the mountain I’ve always dreamed of climbing.
I was 15 years old when I started dating my mountain man or as I like to call him, pal. Noah and I took 5 months to say “I love you” although we both felt it before. I can remember getting caught kissing in the band room. Standing under the high school stairs at the end of the day before going off to our separate houses because we were too young to drive. Hanging out in the art room after open mic night until everybody left. Camping in our backyards because we wanted to create our own adventures even if we couldn’t afford a real one. Slow-dancing at organized high school dances to music neither one of us liked. Singing in the car on our way to our favorite restaurant. Laying out by the lake until sunset. Hiking any and every day that we could. Making the most of every night home alone. Going off to college to try out long distance. Coming home to eat at all our favorite restaurants before I had to go again. Arguing about things that were pointless. Fighting about things were very well warranted. Working through life’s roadblocks together when one of us hit our low. Laughing and calling each other every day because even in the midst of frustration, love always won. Seeing concerts. Taking road trips. Going camping. Planning our future. Sitting at coffee shops and playing chess. Playing guitar together and making up silly songs.
For me that was love, and it has been the greatest mountain range.