By Lea Galimba
Did you ever have that one thing you crave so much you cannot wait to have it?
Did you ever feel the kind of wanting so strong you could almost taste it?
I have been dreaming about this mountain for so long. Back then, I did not understand the strong desire to know it and to explore it. All I know is that I wanted it so much that I was willing to wait for months. When you want something so badly, you wait. No matter how hard it will be. You wait until it is ready for you. And the fact that I waited for months speaks volume.
There‘s just something about this mountain. I climbed mountains in the past and believe me, I love all of them but nothing draws me this hard before. It is maybe because someone told me I’ll love it and that I believed him or maybe because of its name.
To see it with my own eyes, to feel its grass beneath my feet, to breathe in its pine-scented smell made me swoon. To say that it was beautiful is an understatement because it was more than that. It was magical. Every single detail. Every slope. Every curve. Every edge. Everything about it is beautiful.
I still cannot wrap my head around how this mountain welcomed me with open arms, how I instantly felt I belong there, how I marveled the possibility of being lost and being suspended in time and how easily it made me forget all my troubles and my shortcomings while I was on it. Until now, after climbing more mountains than I expected, I still cannot believe that something can hold such power over me.
Lately, some people would come up to me and tell me they like to see me after a climb. They would say that I look happy and content. Maybe because I really do feel happy and content when I climb. Mountains are my hiding place. It’s their company I would seek when I want solace. It is their embrace I would long for when I need silence. It is their whispers that I would like to listen to when I want to have a talk with my heart and my mind.
Total disclosure: I am a sunset kind of girl. I will never get tired of watching it for I like how the sun casts a soft golden color into the sky when it is about to set. I may prefer sunsets but when you’re in the mountains, the rising and the setting of the sun are equally humbling experiences. There is something addicting about it. It is like you’ve finally found the last piece of a puzzle only to realize that the image is more beautiful than what you have imagined it to be; more vibrant. More fitting.
And then, there came our first foggy night.
It was dark, chilly, and quiet. Lying awake, not saying anything and just absorbing everything has always been a favorite moment of mine. After a couple of hours, we opened up our tent and there it was – – displayed in a clear sky are millions of shining stars. I was, once again, blown away.
I was so into it; the stars, the stillness of the night, the chilly air, that it took me a few minutes to realized that I was holding someone’s hand. I knew that something‘s amiss. It doesn’t felt that way before. I never held someone’s hand that way since that fateful day. This time, holding that hand, I did not cringe. It didn’t remind me of the past. It, instead, reminded me of my present.
And then it struck me: it doesn’t hurt anymore. I don’t feel the pain from the past any longer. The realization was too abrupt, too sudden that I felt my head spinning. Wearing my heart on my sleeve in the open is something I promised myself not to do but in that moment, I was willing to break my own rule. I was more than willing to risk everything.
I stole one embrace just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Still, no pain. No punched-in-the-gut feeling. No guilt. And for once, I did not feel the necessity to flee as fast as I possibly can and hide. I stayed there, my eyes closed, still holding his hand. My senses were so alive I can hear his heart beating. Listening to it was like draping an emergency blanket on myself when I cannot take the cold anymore. The sound was so comforting I thought it was the most beautiful music I have ever listened to. And then it dawned on me:
I am free. I am healed. I got through it. Not over it but through it. And it felt good.
Watching the stars, holding his hand and listening to the beat of our hearts, it felt like my whole life came in sync with the mountain’s breathing. It felt wonderful. It also made me want to burst into tears because now, I know I already have something to lose. For things don’t get lost if they don’t have value. And that, right there, is too valuable for me.
It not only reminds me that I am finally healed; it tells me that I can take risks again. It makes me want to break some of my rules and be happy about it because it meant I wasn’t scared anymore. That it doesn’t hurt where it was supposed to be painful before. And most importantly, I have found my right way home.
For home is not a place. Home is that one person who can make you feel whole while looking at the scars from your past. Home is when your heart feels like on the verge of bursting because when you look into his eyes, you don’t see your broken and battered self; but instead, you see someone beautiful. Someone who is almost resurrected.