Exposures

It was the same field of glaciers we’d always hike up to, our packs stuffed with familiar necessities: beer, bacon, steaks, more beer, mild hallucinogens (that was only once, stewed into hamburger helper, and it would have been rude to say no and after all, it smelled delicious, and that was the night I spotted a passing fleet of UFOs).

All things sure to attract good times and ravenous, post-hibernatory black bears alike (rocket scientists, the lot of us). We’d hike to the top of the mountain in the heat of summer, set up camp at the base of the glacier and watch as building-sized chunks of ice would crack free of the mother like the blow from a cannon and tumble down the snowfield, ass over teakettle, to rest at the top of where the rock began.

We’d stomp up higher through knee-deep snow to where we could crawl under the lip of the ice and feel its ancient drips on our backs. Then in the midday sun we’d sometimes strip down, sometimes not, and boot-glissade down the steep, smooth snow, soak hot, stifled feet in rushing creeks, scramble atop giant boulders to take in the view of a trio of brilliantly clear emerald lakes.

We’d curl up, backs against trunks and down sleeping bags cinched up around our noses in front of a fire, experience-drunk and giggling, convinced that everything we ate — crackers with peanut butter, instant oatmeal, tuna from the can, mr. noodle — was surely the finest fare in the whole province that night.

On one trip the film advancer of my point-and-shoot broke. Unknowing, I kept snapping. When the pictures came back there was accidental art: five exposures on one frame, the print just rediscovered.

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A back view of me, hair freshly cropped to the skull for the first and last time, peeling off sweaty clothes at the lakeshore. Me moments later, crouched at the water's edge and about to jump in (followed by screaming, and flailing, and chattering back to shore). Friends resting halfway up the trail; glissading down the snowfield; all of us standing in front of the glacier cliff.

We didn’t have much money. We lived in illegal basement apartments. We were living though, so vividly and so freely that I can’t help but smile to remember it. Now, we’re all parents. There’s an immense, chewy satisfaction about making this transformation alongside dear friends who were there when we were all just us. We watch each other as mothers and fathers, grinning widely, content to let our kids be cooler than us, tipsy in the thick of toddler adoration.

Indescribably happy times ten years ago, and indescribably happy times two days ago. Life explosions and upheaval and flotsam resettling in between the two, changing everything, but no one minding a bit that a cheerio-littered floor lies at our feet rather than emerald water that sparkles with glass-like brilliance.