It was just as a late April road trip should be. Lots of road and lots of time to use it. We were headed for the Grand Canyon. The Eagles were playing, “Take It Easy.” We were. And we were singing.
About a half hour outside of Flagstaff, we had to give up the sky. The mountain was too brisk to leave the top down. As we skirted the outside of Flagstaff, about to head up to the parkland, we had to give in. The mountains hadn’t let go of the cold yet.
We found ourselves in a discount store, looking for something warmer than California. The selection was meager. We bought cheap sweatshirts and knit winter stocking caps. Mine was an ugly navy thing with an orange emblem on it. Hers was an ugly brown one—all function, no frivolity. Necessity was the mother of this purchase. Still I looked at the big bin of knit stocking caps and thought no more ears that hurt from the cold.
This place had all of the stocking caps no one wanted—as a service to their captive market. It was filled with people like us who had not planned on the cold in the mountains.
Finally equipped—two ugly caps, two ugly sweatshirts, and two chocolate bars—Kate and I drove up through the gates to the edge of the canyon and parked the car. Sometime later we found ourselves at “The Steps.”
People react differently when they stand before something so beyond comprehension. Kate became filled with energy taking pictures from every angle. I lost track of her almost at once.
I lost track of myself. I became part of the scenery. I sat on the steps. Me, who is cold all of the time, warmed to the wonder of what was before me. It wasn’t like sitting on the edge of a canyon. It was like sitting on top of the world.
I sat for the longest time . . . just looking, and listening, and breathing.
Miraculous. Astounding. Mindboggling. Life changing. A vocabulary of feeling entered and owned me.
I’d worried that I would be afraid of falling. Instead I found myself thinking of flying. I don’t like heights, but I think I’d like flying.
The time came that Kate was ready to go. Even though I was driving, she had the map.
I was along for the ride.
—me strauss Letting me be