Jenny's and my trip through Arizona was going exceptionally well. We moved at the same pace, and wanted the same amount of alone time.
During our final hours in Sedona, I was on a staunch "New Age" campaign, and one of our final hikes in Sedona took us to one vortex by the airport loop where I had a brief but sublime meditation.
Our last trail took us to the Kachina woman, an imposing rock structure in the middle of desert scrub located adjacent to yet another imposing rock structure.
There she is, looking over the valley.
As Jenny and I neared the formations, we heard melodic flute-playing. It was so alluring. And it was attached to the Pied Piper of Hijacked Spiritual Epiphanies.
As we neared the rocks, a wizened white man in his fifties greeted us. It was the flute player, and he immediately handed us heart-shaped rocks.
My hand to god, that's how it happened.
I was charmed and then instantly repelled by his carnivorous energy, once he made it known.
There is a type of New Ager that is like any other zealot: they foist their dogmas upon you if you happen to give them audience, and refuse to read your desire to pull away. They pull tighter, and, like a Chinese finger trap, the more you struggle to free yourself, the more they cling to you.
This man was pedantic, draining, and talked without end about the wonders of freely sharing loving energy. This really chaps my ass, since it gives concepts like karma and non-judgment a bad rap.
I split away quickly as the Pseudo-Swami offered to help Jenny climb the steep rocks that stood opposite the Kachina woman. A part of me debated asking her, in front of him, if she would rather climb them alone. But I knew that was her short journey to make, and let it go.
With their task ahead of them, I settled onto a flat, round space facing the stone woman and decided to have another meditation.
Quickly, I was dropped into one of my landscapes and knew what I had to do there. For at least the past year, I was on the outs with my -- god, I hate this phrase -- spirit animal.
My spirit animal is gigantic and ferocious. For years, it protected me -- until I stopped protecting us. Then it turned on me.
As I spent my last two years in Atlanta making myself miserable in a disturbingly unhealthy relationship and disingenuous career path, my beast made its misery known. Often by pinning me down and snarling into my face until I forced myself "awake."
But there we were, facing one another. I could do nothing but apologize and forgive myself, because there was no way it would forgive me if I couldn't.
That's all I'll say about our reconciliation.
I came out of my meditation feeling light with humility and peace by the time Jenny was making her way down from the big rock.
Crossing the finish line ... among others.
I was mad at her self-appointed guru, and could see in her eyes that she was tired of him, too. And I was upset that someone else stuck his muddy boots on her path.
By the time our trip was ending, I felt assured about our shared path.
The only fight we had was literally a heated one. It was day five or six of our travels, and we got into an impassioned debate about the merits of a heated bathroom floor. She argued in favor of the in-home luxury, and I argued against its inherent wastefulness. We had to consult a mediator. (My sister.) (She sided with Jenny.) (The bitch.)
That silly skirmish aside, we'd shared time and places together but still found ways to make them our own.
And as we had lunch in an over-the-top resort called Enchantment, I saw us older, still friends, still laughing over our bodies and jobs and where either of those things would take us.
Unless she gets a heated bathroom floor. I have my limits.