What is lost in the numbers of The Picnic is its name. Forty-two miles of biking, two miles of swimming, 20 miles of hiking with 8000' of elevation gain...we climbed Wittich Crack (5.7) to the top of the Grand Teton (13,776'). It took us a bit more than 22.5 hours. We left at 8:30pm and returned at 7:00pm the next day.
Don't be misled. The numbers are vacant of anything human, anything meaningful, and ultimately anything that has to do with the essential character of the uppercase Picnic. The essential character of The Picnic is that its a picnic, lowercase, unitalicized. Its a picnic. And we picnic with friends.
Chris and I met about three years ago in a plywood room on the third floor of South Lodge on the Teton Science School campus and he's been a best friend to me every moment from then until now. And when I say best friend I mean that Chris has been my rock, one of the few constants in three years of exciting chaos, someone with whom the vector of my life has been inextricably aligned, someone who has been a protagonist in my story, someone with whom I've grown and become who I am now and someone who I love deeply.
We have our conversational minima for shooting the shit and we love shooting it. But the ever-deepening of relationship requires more than just shit-shooting. It also requires us to go with the people we love into new spaces, experience new things. By experiencing new spaces with the same people the same people become infused with new light. By doing this we discover things about ourself that we previously were not aware of and also things about others that we did not know.
Perhaps that is why other people picnic blanket strewn in a new space with people. The same conversation that happens out in a park is not the same that would at a table at Cafe Select Montparnasse. Spaces and places change how folks act. A coworker who you've only seen in a cubicle is a different human at a bar, at a park, or in the mountains. And so that is why we picnic, to remove from the mundane with others. Picnics are necessary for growing exciting fun relationships.
And so when on the way back from Lander, after Chris and I had caught up on all the things that'd happened on our 30-day courses, after he ran me through evacuating four students to prevent a coup d'etat, after I told him about the politics of becoming a Course Leader, after corroborating one another's sense of privilege for being involved with an organization as wonderful and constructive as NOLS, after all that when I asked Chris if he wanted to have a picnic and he said sure I was so happy I couldn't contain myself.
And, how did our picnic go? The best part for me was, after biking, swimming, climbing the Grand, coming back down, the hike from the Lupine Meadows Trailhead to the boat dock on Jenny Lake. It was the best because that was when were really fucked up, totally smoked. For me our picnic started there because that was the zone Chris and I don't usually get to share together. It was unfamiliar. Chris usually avoids getting obliterated on alcohol or weed or else and although I enter that space more, it is a rare space for me too. We are both usually responsible about eating and hydrating well in the mountains. Together we tend to avoid totally foolishness, yet, when we arrived down in the Valley it was all silly.
Passing all the dull tourists and laughing. We groaned publicly over the smallest hills, hiked blasting Frank Ocean, and made puns about all the major landmarks. We walked together with the sense of entitlement of drunk Army veterans. No one here knew what we'd been through. And fuck them anyway. Chris and I laughed and carried on in delusion and then eventually got in neoprene and struggled back across Jenny Lake, which sucked, but was again an unfamiliar space to play in with Chris: things just fucking sucking.
I'm writing this from a coffee shop in New Haven, CT having finally moved into a new apartment with new people and thinking of Chris in Jackson, wondering when the next time we'll catch up is, wondering whether he'll move here next year for school, and wondering at the beauty of our relationship and the beauty of investing ourselves in the lives of others.
This is all to say, don't forget to picnic with the ones you love.