Rich and Suzy headed out early in the day for their adventure deep into the heart of Yellowstone. They found their way to Jenny Lake and boarded the ferry. The skies were a beautiful blue, lightly dotted with cirrus clouds and the lake was calm.
The ferry skimmed across the water for their brief boat ride. They pulled into the dock and offloaded with several others to find their way to the trails near by. Suzy took Rich to the side, letting the more experienced hikers head up and to allow them to have a little space before they tried to find their way to Inspiration Point and Hidden Waterfalls.
Slowly they made their way up the trail, well behind the throng of hikers. They took their time, not as skilled, carefully navigating some of the more moderate sections of the trail. It definitely was a more strenuous hike than those on the flat areas by the coast.
Suzy stopped to take photos along the way, appreciating the various vantage points. Rich caught up with her when she stopped and took in deep breaths of air, one of his habits she grew to appreciate through the years, although she wonders if he’s actually okay from time to time. Rich points out a view over Jenny Lake. It relaxes both of them before they carry on.
They reach Inspiration Point, but it was extremely crowded. Suzy was uncomfortable around the throng of bodies; she hoped people would have already moved on. She liked quiet walks, not tourist central sites. They enjoyed the view for a few moments and then moved on to find a small spot to enjoy lunch.
After the hike, they headed back to their cabin to freshen up and relax. Suzy found her way to the Adirondack chairs around the fire pit. She took a seat, facing their cabin, and began scrolling through her photos.
A shadow came overhead and a voice spoke up, “That’s a great shot.” Steve was behind her. He walked around her and sat down in the seat next to her. “How’ve you been?”
Suzy wasn’t sure how to react. She stared at her camera…it was a tie that bound them, at least in her mind. A shared interest from long ago. “Good. And you?” She managed to get out.
Her stomach still had butterflies for him, but they had gone different paths, built their families separately, moved on. When you love someone, sometimes you let them go and take the hit…that was how she felt. She had struggled to move on, but found a way.
“Good…good. Can I see your photos?” He extended his hand.
“They’re mostly junk, but sure.” She handed him her camera. “My eyesight isn’t what it used to be.” She pointed to the lenses of her glasses.
Steve scrolled through the images. He laughed at one which Rich had took of Suzy being silly. “You guys seem to have a lot of fun together,” Steve commented.
Suzy shook her head. “Most of the time, we do.” She smiled, looking over at their cabin. “He’s taking a nap right now.”
Steve handed her camera back to her. “Nice shots.” Then he looked toward the unlit fire pit. “I’m glad we bumped into each other.”
Suzy’s eyes drifted over to Steve. He was sitting there, elbows on knees, clasped hands, looking solemn. Some awkward time passed as they sat in the silence, with all the words they never said and may never be able to say to each other.
Sofia’s voice rang out from behind them as she walked up, “Dad!” Steve smiled as his eldest walked over. “Who’s this?”
Suzy smiled toward Sofia. She looked like her Dad so much. Suzy had seen pictures of her through the years, but now she was almost grown and around the age when Steve and Suzy first met, all those years ago.
Suzy introduced herself to Sofia, then continued, “Your Dad and I went to school together. Crazy how we bumped into each other after all these years!”
Sofia smiled at Suzy, “He’s mentioned your name before. Nice to meet you!” Then she turned to her Dad. “Lexi and I are going down to the camp store. Want anything?”
Steve shook his head no and soon Sofia was off with her kid sister.
“She’s a sweet girl, Steve.”
His face brightened up and he started sharing about watching the girls grow up. Suzy genuinely smiled as Steve talked. She couldn’t have kids of her own, but she was happy he got to have the family he wanted.
Slowly their conversation turned more comfortable and even lighter. The awkwardness dissipated and their friendship came back. They even shared a few laughs.
“Am I interrupting?” a man’s voice inquired. Rich had walked up to the ring of chairs.
Suzy looked up at him and smiled. It was a smile of true happiness. “Hey sweetie, this is Steve.”
Rich was happy to see she was no longer on edge. He stuck out his hand and exchanged greetings with Steve, then he took a look at the fire pit. “Hey, this is gas. Mind if I turn it on?”
Steve gave Rich a thumbs up. Suzy smiled, and was surprised how comfortable she was with both Rich and Steve being in the same place.
Rich took a seat on the other side of Suzy and the three of them stared into the fire as evening settled in. They chatted about the weather and the sites for a bit.
Steve then looked at his watch and suddenly stood up. “I should get back to the cabin and head out to dinner with the family. It was great to catch up with you!”
Suzy stood up and gave Steve a friendly hug. “Yes, it was.”
Steve headed back to his cabin and Suzy turned to Rich. “Dinner?” Rich smiled and shook his head yes.