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The Birthday Dance - Friday, Dec. 20, 2019
Sunday, Jul. 28, 2019 @ 10:47 pm
I wake in the darkness of the tent. I listen to the roar of the distant waterfall cascading from the glacier. I extract myself from my sleeping bag and slide out of the end of my tiny tent.
The stars spread out above in a wild splendor. A million stars plus infinite stardust, the Milky Way, and slow satellites traversing the open sky.
I lay back onto the ground and rest my head on a low shrubby patch of heather. The air is resinous and cold and fresh, and the moon has not yet risen. The other women lay sleeping in their tents beyond.
We hiked here, a radical lady crew of eleven. We pitched our tents near a lake, in the shadow of a jagged and massive peak. And then, while the others spent the afternoon at the waterfall, Robyn and I ascended the peak. Following cairns up the rocky ridge. Short patches of free climbing. Loose boulders cascade with terrifying power, and our legs are bruised and bleeding.
We summit after three hours. Standing on that peak with her, the glacier hugging the rocky slope beneath us. A group of Japanese mountaineers huddles at the sub-peak, each carrying an ice axe and decked out in orange Gore-tex. The men ogle us, our light hiking shoes, our wild brown hair and flashing smiles. I wonder where their wives are as I devour a pound of half-squished blueberries.
I lay there in the dark watching the stars. I look up at the peak that I stood upon, its shape silhouetted in the star-spangled sky. A brisk wind pushes against my face.
A quick and sharp meteor cuts across the sky above the peak. Like the striking of a match.
Make a wish.
Again, there’s nothing to wish for.
Everything is perfect the way it is.
I crawl back into my tent, feet first. Pull the sleeping bag up around my shoulders and fall into a deep and steady sleep.