Dan & I met in Dec.'82 at a Health Care conference in San Francisco. (Dan was speaker-I was faculty liaison). He was living in Detroit, working with United Auto Workers as Health & Safety Specialist. Both in our 30's. I went to Detroit for Christmas - our first "date". We were both rather amazed at how much we connected but didn't want to rush things.
Date #2: In February '83 we arranged to meet up in Albuerqurque where he was again speaking, and travel to Santa Fe & Taos, then over to Sedona, AZ. We did some small hikes around Taos, then travelled over to Frijoles Canyon, Bandelier National Monument. Got there about 1pm.
Weather was gorgeous, warm, but there was still snow on higher elevations. We took a "short" walk down to the Rio Grande and found ourselves mired in mud. Rather than retrace our route, we headed out and up onto the mesa. From the [misleading Park Service tourist handout] map it looked like a 20 minute walk back.
However, we kept climbing, left the mud behind only to discover ankle deep snow. Since it was only going to be a short walk, we were TOTALLY unprepared. Cami & chinos & Nikes for me, Dan did have a jeans jacket, but otherwise just tee shirt & levis. No food or water. We hadn't even bothered to sign the Park's hikers' log. Stoopid stoopid stoopid.
By this time, we had been walking over 3 hours. We were on top of the Mesa, the snow was getting deeper, the 'trail' was almost non-existent, and the sun was starting to set. I have always had major trust issues, and tried to micro-manage situations for my safety. All I could do was keep following this man who was calm & steady and persistent in his efforts to get us where we needed to go.
I was a city-girl, born & raised in San Francisco. Dan was raised in Brainard, MN and was pretty comfortable 'in nature'. He got us off that Mesa, cutting across the table top diagonally and somehow finding the edge. We could now see the parking lot & our car far below, but snow was above our knees. He thought he could discern a switch-back pattern, and taking me by the hand, led me down the mountain, sometimes with snow up to our waists. (I'm 5'10" BTW, Dan 6'3").
When we got to the bottom (the sun had now set) we just hugged and laughed and hugged again. 2 days later, we were in Sedona and we admitted we loved each other, and wanted to spend our lives together.
Dan went back to Detroit, put his house on the market, applied to U of Minn for his PhD, and gave notice to UAW. I returned to SF, in a holding pattern, but for once not anxious for the future.
He came out to SF March 30, '83 for a brief vacation, and I left with him April 15th (Date #3!). Married in Malmo, MN on Mille Lacs lake July 3. Will celebrate 27 years next month.
Walking The Mesa has always been a metaphor for us to just keep on keeping on, with mutual trust & respect. Not that we haven't wanted to kill each other at times... But something happened up there for both of us.
(A big Thank You to Bertrande for allowing me to share this story. I'd like to take this time to say that I always welcome stories of transcendence, no matter how big or small. If you have one to share, feel free to send me a Facebook message or email me at email@example.com. I think these stories are inspiring and I believe they empower others to successfully navigate their own life "mesas".)