Even though our adventure together did not last a lifetime as we expected - my fiancé and I certainly lived our days adventurously. He convinced me to go skydiving a week before we began dating to my surprise. I am not an adrenaline junky, but somehow he had a way of making me surprise myself by the things he was able to bring out in me. I always liked that. He took me up for several helicopter flights while he was in flight school. He was so elated because apparently I was the only girl who ever accepted his invite to go up with him for a flight - and not only did I accept - I was extremely excited. It's beyond me that anyone would have had any other reaction to someone asking them "do wanna go up in a helicopter?" Certainly one more reason we fit so well together.
In the three years we had together we did lots of other adventurous things. We took a rock star trip to Vegas, took up kayaking together, did lots of camping and hiking, hot air ballooning, parasailing, race car driving school for a day… this was most assuredly NOT the girl I was before I met him. It was the girl I wanted to be - but without the right companion to do it with. I think that is one of my favorite things that he brought into my life - a perfect match for my sense of adventure that brought it out even more so in me.
But that spirit wasn't just in the grand adventures. It was in the little everyday things too. When we took frequent road trips across Texas to visit his family, we would often get off the main highway and take some other winding road we'd never been on. It always took longer, but we saw things we'd never seen before and even enjoy laughing at ourselves if we got lost sometimes.
We were big foodies too. We enjoyed going to restaurants and eating slowly and savoring every flavor - trying to pick out the ingredients we were tasting in each dish. And cooking at home was always fun too. He would find a new inspirations for a main courses, and I would chime in with ideas of what sides would go great with it. We'd go to the store together thinking it out and creating it as we went along, then come home and create together in the kitchen with some good music going - which could be anything from classical to jazz to country or rap depending on our mood. Cooking together was most definitely one of my favorite everyday adventures we shared.
Our conversations were adventurous too… sharing a sharp wit and flair for the sarcastic - we would often lock into an effervescent one-upmanship, trying to impress each other with twists and turns of our humor. A road trip or long day's hike would often result in talks spanning american history, gun ballistics, inspiring new artwork, outer space and the universe, achieving goals and dreams, the rapture of flying and favorite new music. There was never a dull moment and we never ran out of things to talk about.
The joy and beauty that our shared adventure brought to my life makes continuing to live adventurously very important to me. It brought me a profound feeling of aliveness… of being and living fully and deeply in the present moment. Adventure - no matter how big or small - has a profound ability to do this for us. And that's not only possible to experience in the midst of grief, I think its absolutely VITAL. At no other time do we more need the reprieve that a feeling of adventure can bring.
The joy and beauty our adventure brought to my life is also the reason why its so HARD to continue to live adventurously. Because without him here to live wildly with - it can be so easy to focus instead on what is missing. Being unable to ask my partner "Hey! You want to go kayaking tomorrow?"and hear back an excited reply of "Hell yes! Let's do this!" makes it harder to even remember to think about going kayaking (our kayaks still sit in storage collecting dust, 2 years after his death). I've found that my desire to do some of the things we did together just hasn't been there.
But I am still trying to think adventurously like him. Trying to keep the spirit alive inside me… because I know more than anything that he is telling me its time to go out and have a whole new adventure of my own. He is telling me to get out there and keep surprising myself. Even though there are a lot of days when I don't WANT a new adventure. Even though there are a lot of days still when the pain is too great to be able to see that there is still an adventure in this life of mine to be had. Still I never stop trying to mix adventure into my world - I never stop hearing him in the seat of my soul whispering for me to grab life by the horns.
And so I take trips, and I try things I've never done before. This year, I started giving art lessons to an elementary school boy… something I never imagined myself doing in a million years. Its been rewarding and healing for us both. I also had my first solo art exhibit - a collection of the past 2 years of my photography since his death, a life long dream of mine that has totally changed my whole viewpoint of myself as an artist. And in just a few weeks… I'm blowing money I probably shouldn't be to go with my best friend to Hawaii. Two years ago I'd have been far too frugal to drop that kind of cash just for fun. But I have the money, I want one big travel adventure this year, and dammit I deserve it!
In the life of someone widowed, it can be so easy to become apprehensive… to get caught in a fearful loop of thinking to yourself dreadfully, "What's going to be just around the corner?". Continuing to take chances to see and live life adventurously has been one of the biggest ways of helping me change the whole meaning of that statement to "What's going to be just around the corner!!" To be excited by the unknown instead of paralyzed by it. This is the one of the most life-changing lessons that my fiancé brought into my life, and one that has stayed deeply seated in me even after his death. As he once said "Pain is going to happen. You've just got to not let it get you down." So I keep on trying to not let it get me down - at least not for too long - and I keep setting my eyes towards new adventures. Towards surprising myself pleasantly. Towards hope.