Adventures of our Past
Updated: Jul 29
My husband and I met in high school when I was fifteen. At the time, I was still in that “I'm immortal” phase, and had no problem exploring even the tallest of grasses or the highest of ridges. My husband, then an awkward, super shy teenage boy, was all for similar adventures because it meant solitude and quiet. We hit it off right away, and our expeditions began when we started dating in February of 2003, just seven days before Valentine’s Day.
Our first adventure was down the street, a few blocks from his house, through brush and those tall grasses, and into what was probably someone’s private property, where we found a giant old oak tree. It became “our tree” and “our place.” A lot of you might be picturing ornery teens macking in the woods, but it was more or less our place to chat and just hang out. The only evidence of our trespassing were our initials carved into the tree.
Eventually we got our licenses and teen beater cars, and we began a ritual of heading to Subway for a cold cut trio and then sharing it at a nearby place called Carrington Pits. There, the pine trees jolted straight upward, only growing tufts of branches at their tops. They swayed back and forth in even the lightest of breezes. The sound was hypnotic.
Here, we hiked off trail, on trail, got extra muddy near the lake, and ate our sandwiches on the dock. It wasn’t about the animals we saw or the miles we walked, it was about the adventure. We climbed up the sides of steep, muddy ravines, just so we could say that we did.
As we grew up together, eventually graduating and moving out of our parents’ homes and into a few rentals of our own, the adventures continued but less frequently. We were grown-ups now, paying bills that required full-time jobs and less time to frolic in the woods. Instead we spent our rare days-off together driving somewhere we’d never been before. Our adventures evolved from uncharted trails to uncharted roads. We explored new towns, new cities, eventually transforming this new hobby into a full-blown road trip passion. We drove six hours to Chicago, ten hours to Cedar point, twenty-something hours to Daytona Beach, Florida, oohing and ahhing at the Smoky Mountain Pass as we headed through Tennessee.
We kept on like this for a while, taking on the everyday adventures such as “marriage” and “buying a new home” while driving to new locations to tour places such as Mark Twain Cave and the springs in Shannon County. It wasn’t really wanderlust that kept us leaving town, it was more like a desire to explore/experience the unknown. We bonded over these brand-new experiences with one another, over the conversations that would carry on to the next day. Even now we still say “remember when…” and we laugh because what we saw really had been ridiculous. Or we get starry-eyed because it really had been a pretty day and the spring really had been extra blue.
After I turned twenty-five I began to feel someone missing during these experiences, and we embarked on a new adventure: parenthood. My pregnancy was easy enough that we could still keep traveling. Yes, I really did sit in the car for ten hours to Chicago, and it was so worth the sciatic pain.
I still have memories of me waddling down Michigan Ave, of getting a bad foot cramp in a taxi cab, and of shopping for little girl clothes at Water Tower Place. Best babymoon ever!
And let me just say that this guy, this once-so-shy and awkward guy who thought he might not do well with a kid because he had no idea what to expect, this guy is an amazing dad.
And now we have someone else to share our passion to explore with. Goo takes the ten hour trips to Cedar Point like a champ, loves to hike for hours, get muddy, loves to splash around in caves. I’m so glad I gave birth to a fellow adventurer, one with the same googly-eyed views of nature and the world around us. Rocks are cool. Dirt is awesome. And did you see that bird? It was brown! I hope that childlike wonder never leaves her, same as it never left her parents.
For more than half my life I’ve been adventuring with this guy. We’ve taken turns helping each other up the cliffside, and have held hands during the roughest of undertows. I can’t wait to journey into the unknown that is tomorrow, crossing a few more items off the bucket list, taking on the Yukon and Appalachian trails, taking on the tooth fairy tasks and the teen years. What will be next? We aren’t sure. And that’s exactly how we like it.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Topher.
And Happy Valentine’s Day to you.