How To Go To Nature

A photo posted by @haleymlotek on Aug 23, 2015 at 5:14pm PDT

This weekend I went to Calgary for a wedding. I’ve been looking forward to this wedding for what feels like forever; these are friends from an old job in Toronto, and I love them all very much, and based on what I know about the bride (beautiful, hardest working person on earth, impeccable taste) I knew this was going to be the best wedding I’d ever attended.

But in the days leading up to the actual wedding I got distracted and stopped thinking or planning the way I normally would when I’m leaving for a trip. I didn’t even try on my dress or my new pair of Spanx before I left, a real rookie mistake, and when I was changing in the hotel room I cursed myself for not buying a smaller size of modern corsetry or getting the dress taken in. I haven’t worn it since June and it’s just a little too big in the back so that when I stand or sit or breathe there’s a large gap between my dress and my body, a big, unattractive fabric air bubble. I didn’t check to see if there was a gym at the hotel (there was) and so I didn’t bring my running shoes (an opportunity to run in a free air-conditioned space, squandered). I didn’t check the weather for the whole weekend and it was cold (an opportunity to wear some fall clothes, my favorite, fuck summer forever). I didn’t drink enough water on the flight or wear moisturizer and my skin was so red and dehydrated that I contemplated wearing a bag over my head to the actual ceremony. In short, I was a real hot mess.

The wedding itself was just as beautiful as I’d imagined; the bride’s dad hand made all the tables, chairs, and pews for the ceremony, and the sun came out, and everyone looked so gorgeous and we were all so happy and just crying like nonstop for most of the day. All of our feelings were right on the surface; the thing about weddings, I’ve come to realize since I entered the age bracket that attends lots of them, is that if you have a group of hot young people who have known each other for more than a year gathered in their best clothes for a very high-emotional-stakes event, things are going to get…messy. Even if nothing actually happens!! It’s just that you’ll have known everyone long enough to know some real shit. Before I left I had to say goodbye to people I wouldn’t see before my flight, and I’ve said goodbye to them at least four times this year already, in the sense of “so long, I’m putting an entire country in between us and at this moment I have literally no idea when I’ll see you next.” And you would think that it gets easier every time but in fact the reverse is true.

So, the next day, even though I hadn’t packed appropriately and even though I had a lot of work to do, I got it in my head that I should go to ~nature~. We were about two hours away from Banff. “I want to go talk to some mountains about my life,” I told my friends, and they laughed, but I was not really joking! I did my work and picked up the rental car and drove and drove and drove until the mountains were less “off in the horizons” and more “could fall on your head at any moment.”

We found a place to park in Canmore and left the car and there it was: nature. I pointed solemnly. “Found it,” I told my nature companions, “found the nature.” We walked past the water and through a few reasonable trails. I pointed up at the mountains — snow! — and said, “Nature.” In the distance we could hear someone playing the saxophone under a nearby bridge and I pointed. “Jazz.”

I didn’t have the right shoes and I didn’t really know where I was and to be honest I know literally nothing about Alberta or Canada or nature and I wasn’t really sure why I came or what I was hoping to see. Everything was beautiful, of course, and the air smelled so good and the mountains seemed open to a cool conversation, but.

I kept walking until I noticed that the trail we were on was about to end and when I looked up the scene was cartoonishly picturesque. A big black lab came running up to us to lick our hands; a young dad was sitting by the water with a pile of small pink clothes beside him. His daughter, who looked about four or five, was standing still in the clear water. She looked like a baby painted on the Sistine Chapel. Big blonde curls and blue eyes and a serious, solemn face. The water was situated right in between two huge mountains and there were these little cloud puffs in between their peaks and I have never, ever seen that shade of blue in my entire life. Oh, I thought, but that was the extent of it.

We took another step forward to get a little closer to the water, not wanting to disturb this perfect, perfect scene, and the little girl yelled at us. “Don’t step there!” she warned in a loud, tiny, baby voice. We paused for an explanation. “There’s poop,” she said. We paused again and she shrugged. “I pooped.” Ah, I thought. Nature.

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