I cannot believe I have never been here. But it is beautiful. A gorge in an area that has bumper stickers that say “Ithaca is Gorgeous”. I have been to one of the places so many times I cannot count them. But never here in an area south of the city. We eat our lunch on the rocks that flank the stream, mine a salad with nuts and beans and tofu. A paper coffee cup full of red wine. Hers is sushi, and a complementary coffee cup. We hike up the upper rim trail, the one that goes along the trail is blocked with dire warning signs. It is hot and sunny and I have worked up a pretty good sweat in no time. We go down the million steps and I am whiny to be honest. I wore the wrong pants and I am cranky, I like this woman I am with but we have spent the morning in a crowded environment filled with hundreds of women digging through cardboard boxes and her trying on the same clothing over and over and over, and I am starting to get annoyed by her. We get to the bottom and she strips off her clothing and jumps into the water. I sit calmly on the rocks but then in a moment of sweaty annoyance I join her. In my underwear in the freezing cold water. After a moment it feels so good and we are playing in the water like kids. Swimming and splashing and shouting out in joy. We continue walking further down the path. She goes in again, but I am cool now and feel like meditating on the side of the rushing water. I find a cool spot on a flat rock the slopes just so, I sit in Burmese Lotus. My feet lower than my bottom. I find it hard to get into the moment and realize that half my problem these days is that I am not meditating enough. As I sit there I also realize that this is more in line with what I want my life to be. Day trips to beautiful places. I don’t want to walk along a mosquito filled road side feeling like I am not good enough for the person I am walking with, even though I far outshine them. I do not want to learn to golf (I have never even miniature golfed!). I do not want to try to be a person who is quiet and demur and not outspoken. I want to just be myself with acceptance. In the moments I sit there on that rock, trying desperately to return to ONE breath, I realize I probably won’t find this in anyone but myself. What am I clinging to anyway. Will I not feel whole if I do not find love? I need to just love myself; I remember Dr. Cross telling me that the energy I put outward, to try and please others, to try and do special things for the people I love, to spoil and pamper those I care about, all need to be turned inward. Not that I mean material goods, what I mean is that I should be taking care of finding my own joy. When I sing sometimes, out loud in the voice that is finally returning from laryngitis and I can finally belt out the music again, I realize this, that “who am I singing for?” (though my voice is strong and generally in key), I am singing for me. I am the only one who needs to hear it. She calls to me, Meg! Meg! I slowly get up and go to where she is. Come in the water come sit over here come blah blah. I was meditating I say, I am fine. I find a warm smooth rock and sit in the sun while she swims. I would have never thought it, I say but I think you are more adventurous than I am. I like going for long walks but I don’t want to spend the whole day swimming in freezing cold water. I do not want to break the rules and risk prosecution for a good view. She laughs at me, but it is true. We return up the long steps to the top, and then to the car. We change into dry clothes and drive home. When I close my eyes I am swimming in freezing water, I am a warm rock in the sun. I am a comfortable place to rest. I sleep deeply.