Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Italians, Arches and Getting Older

I may not be a Delicate Arch, but I am forming over time.

We pull up to the Moab Valley Inn and there's a group of about twenty Harley Davisdson's in front.  We have already been dazzled by our drive through the Rockies and then winding around the Colorado River on 128. I am still feeling that sense of surreality I felt over seventeen years ago when I first landed here, in Moab, Utah, so the motorcycles fit right in with my out of body experience.

In my '20's and '30's, I thought that time was linear, but more and more now I am realizing that it's not: time is fluid - I am every age I have ever been. The good news is that the bull*&^* is what's eroding, leaving room for my authentic self.

I pass the riders on my way to check in and have to stop myself from gaping - they are all in their 60's and 70's, the sounds from their mouths sounding like bubbles from a stream: Italians.

My past, present and future are commingling - yes, being an elderly Italian tourist on a motorbike is in my future. Why not?

Yet I have no time or wherewithal to stop and make friends, to practice my rusty Italian - I am on a mission - to get my family of five settled so that we can blaze trails up and through the red rocks of Arches National Park.

The last time I was in Moab, the kids were barely a twinkle in my eye and I still had a lot of growing up to do. Now I am 45 and I have an 8, 11, and 13 year old. They have never been to Moab. I haven't been back either, and if you've read my book Edges, you can feel my love for the area - setting as character.

Back to the car and the motorcycles are gone, and we are off to the trail head for the 1.5 mile hike to Delicate Arch. It is 5pm, and although there is no direct sunlight making the 90 degree weather bearable, the light on the rocks turn them into the color of bright watermelon.

We have company on our journey, and the voices we hear are not just American: they are Hebrew, German, mostly French . . . Italian! The hiker's ages range from twenty to seventy, in various shapes and sizes.  Scarlett at 8, is the youngest hiker, so we can forgive her the occasional "are we there yet?" sighs.

The wonderful thing about this hike is that as massive as Delicate Arch is, you can't see it until you get there. You have to trust, have faith.

I am moving in that faith, in the present.

Hiking through the rocks and then the steep slick rock, then up and up (vertigo!) and around corners, steep drops and . . .

"Che bellissima!" Indeed. The kids are enchanted, as I knew they would be.

The vertigo is new for me: a sign of age? Yet it's not annoying or frighting, it just adds another dimension and I take deeper breaths and exhale more slowly.

The kids are exhilarated hiking back, feeling a sense of accomplishment. We have a late dinner at the Blu Pig, and a group of elderly Italians have the table next to us. Were they the ones on the motorbikes? Were they the ones on the hike?

We see them for sure at breakfast the next morning, and on another long hike we do in Arches to Devil's Garden. There are so many things to do, how can we have the same itinerary?

Rob helps some of them through a stream the next day when we are hiking in Negro Bill Canyon.

Although they are older, they are vigorous, they are inspiring. They are curious and delighted.

Finally, on our last morning, I get the courage to speak to some of them. I have been saving up all of my Italian until this moment. They are from Milan, and flew to Phoenix, renting the bikes there. They only laugh when I ask them what they think of American coffee.

"Ciao!" they shout, and vroom off.

But our adventures are not finished! Our next stop is Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. It is mid afternoon and we have a tour of Cliff Palace at 4, but the drizzle makes us bide our time in the museum, where four of the Italians are! We greet each other like old friends - and I again am reminded of the fluidity of time.

I may not be a spring chicken, but I have learned and am still learning what it takes to practice radical self-care, and not to give up on any aspect of my life - be it physical, mental, spiritual. I may NOT be Italian, but I will be an older person who is a voracious lover of life, just like these powers of example.

I may not be a Delicate Arch, but I am forming over time.


  1. Lovely! Delicate Arch is one of my favorite places in the world. I used to draw it over and over again when I was younger. I loved thinking of you in Moab. Time is fluid. Maybe some day I will end up in Katona. :)

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  4. What an inspirational post! I just tweeted it. I've never seen these arches except in photos, but I hope I will someday.

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