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Eulogy for a White Panama Hat

My husband Rob took me on our first trip to Santa Fe when we were still dating and since then, New Mexico holds a special place in our hearts. It has become a tradition in our family to visit Santa Fe on a regular basis. We love New Mexico with its mind-boggling combination of culture and beautiful scenery, and we plan plenty of activities every time we go, opera, chamber music festival, art galleries, dining, and of course, hiking. Rob takes our trips very seriously and prepares ahead of time. He takes care of the important things like airfare, rental car, hotel reservations and opera tickets. This time he also bought us little smart backpacks that carry a gallon of water and can be used anytime hands free. The extent of my preparation for the trip sums up to: walking shoes, sun block and my well-traveled and very cultured white panama hat, which visited Alhambra among other wonders of the world last summer.

Hiking can be fun and invigorating, it also can be scary and dangerous. On our last trip to Santa Fe we experienced both. But, the one that stuck in my mind is not the fun one… We decided to visit Tsankawi, a section of the Bandelier National Monument once home to the Ancestral Tewa Pueblo people, on the way to Los Alamos and lost track of time. By the time we got to the park it was midday – hot and sunny. The trail that was supposed to be one mile long turned out to be three miles with steep climbs and descents. There were no bars on our cell phones that could offer any comfort. We were alone in a universe of rough rock and narrow walkways from centuries ago. On our way down, a ladder made out of branches was suspiciously loosely attached to the cliff, in 100-degree heat, with nobody around for as far as the eyes could see.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation that made you think, “THIS COULD BE IT?” Rob went down the ladder first and was waiting for me to descend. He was worried, I could feel it… and I joked that if he would take my picture at this moment (from the bottom up) he could blackmail me with it for the rest of my life… but in my head I was writing a eulogy for me and my white panama hat. I always thought that at a moment like that I would want to summarize my life: Did I accomplish everything I was supposed to? Did I raise a son, plant a tree, was I as nice as possible to both relatives and strangers? Did I build a legacy of any sort? Did I make a difference? Despite what you might think, none of these life-summarizing questions popped in my head. I just thought, “Come on Anya…keep your cool and just keep trying!”

My husband is the best company possible for this kind of adventure. Rob is a Retired Colonel of the US Air Force who went through survival skills training more then once, so hiking did not present a big danger to him. But he had his precious cargo with him. Me – the white panama wearing European chick with a great sense of humor and equally great lack of physical fitness, with very different survival skills experience! Anyway, my company was way better than his… At first, he was cheering me up while I was settling my bargain with the universe and contemplating my eulogy. By the time I got down this ladder and we took this picture, life came back to normal. The picture of course was taken for Facebook, because as we all know, if it isn’t on Facebook it didn’t happen.

As I am still alive, I decided not to give up my everlasting and very difficult dreams. After all, KEEP TRYING and DO NOT GIVE UP is what came to my mind on that cliff when I was writing my eulogy! Now I am religiously going to Zumba three times a week because I keep trying to look young and learn dancing; I started practicing my old favorite Beethoven and just surprised myself by impulsively ordering another “best in the world” Spanish audio course. So far I am talking to myself while driving, but I hope one day to get enough courage to strike up a conversation with my native Spanish-speaking friends. And when things get rough I remember my eulogy for the white panama hat and that voice that saved me comes back, “Anya, while you are alive, all you can do is just keep trying!”

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10 years, 9 months ago Comments Off on Eulogy for a White Panama Hat