When my daughter Sierra was on a road trip with her boyfriend, Eben, last summer, she called me crying. They were spending all day driving through the glorious west and she was imprisoned in a vehicle. When they finally stopped, her boyfriend wanted to go into town and find a cafe to sip coffee, find a library, mediate on his yoga mat. Sierra wanted to hike. She was born to hike.
I told her to just go ahead and hike herself, leave him behind if he didn’t want to join her, but to take care of herself.
I was concerned. Eben was nice enough and loved my daughter enough but did he love what she loved and how much did it matter?… the important things, the things that are not wants in a person’s life but are needs. I know tons of hiking clubs filed with divorced members whose spouses did not share this love and so every vacation was spent away, with others, making memories without their spouse. It often doesn’t work after awhile.
Eben spent the last two semesters abroad in Nepal as a student life advisor at the study abroad school that he and Sierra met at. When he came home in May, Sierra announced that she wanted to do something epic. Like hike the nearly 500 mile long Colorado Trail.
Todd and I helped them prepare, pack, cover logistics, give advice and encouragement. Sierra whispered to me, “Eben is really nervous, Mom. He’s never done anything like this before. He is doing it for me.”
And my heart moved for the boy. Eben had grown on us over the years that he and Sierra were together and we felt pretty confident that they would make a good lifelong match. But I was thrilled to hear this and thought, “This is good. He CAN do this for you. He SHOULD do this for you. This will only be one of many epic times he will be called to rally for you.”
I thought about my own amazing husband who led our family across the Continental Divide- five summers traveling over the Rocky Mountains with small children- the logistics, the planning, the responsibility – so much of that was on the shoulders of “Trail Boss.” He knew his wife wanted to write a book about the entire 3,100-mile adventure and I could not do that if we fell short of our goal. Year after year he pressed on. Just as he did when it came to the long five years that it took to build our handmade log home from scratch, teaching himself every skill he needed- besides logwork- plumbing, wiring, wallboard, slate roofing, clay tile flooring and on and on, because he and his wife wanted to own a debt-free handmade log home. He did it because he was dedicated to his wife. And Eben would hike the Colorado Trail because he is dedicated to our daughter- as it should be.
On the top of Coney Summit, Eben proposed to Sierra. We all knew it was coming sooner or later but what a grand place to do it! At 13,000 feet! They are planning a May 2015 wedding.
And so on the phone, I was teasing little Eben, “What would you like to call me? Mom? Mama? Ma? What do you call your own mother? We should start to practice.”
They both laughed and Sierra said, “Mom, you are so ridiculous.” But after their completion of the Colorado Trail, I feel very close to the boy and said to him, “You know Eben, I feel ever closer to you because I share a special tie with you. We have a special bond.”
When the two of them were getting their outdoor clothing together, I pulled zip necked long sleeved long underwear out of storage that fit both of them. (They wear the same size). Both shirts were blue. Eben needed synthetic under pants yet. I told him I had a bunch of pairs that I bought that were styled like men’s white BVD’s without the flap. I hated them and never wore them. “Would you like to try them?”
Sierra said, “no.” Eben said, “why not? I don’t care. No one will see them. Why should I spend a bunch of money if I don’t need to and also be a consumer?”
And so my underwear kept him hypothermic-free on those 11-12,000 Colorado ridges when it rained and thundered and lightning.
I love Eben even more and know he is a good fit for my daughter because he is secure enough in his masculinity and confidence to be okay with me writing about the underwear in this blog. And I thank him from the bottom of this mother’s heart- for caring about my daughter enough to want to hike and to successfully hike the entire Colorado Trail and of course, for loving her this much. I am so excited to think of the years ahead. Welcome son.