{reallife} backpacking in Rainier National Park

I cried part of the way home from Portland today, eyes spilling over with unmet expectations, feelings of disconnection and basically, that discontented ever-longing for something more. A weekend retreat with my husband and a week-long vacation in the city should leave me feeling in love and invigorated, no?

Well -- turns out I'm a messy, emotional, tired-out human being who hasn't altogether learned how to be thankful for what I've got. Relationships aren't ever quite what we imagine they'll be. Vacations aren't ever quite as relaxing as we hope they'll be.

Want to imagine with me for a moment?

Setting: crystal clear lake in the wilderness fed by a glacial stream, loons calling across the waters, rocks the perfect size for two, bug-free air just chilly enough to welcome a man's embrace, flowers perfuming each breath, and cheerful birds singing evening and morning duets to lull or rise, as need may be.

What we do: we bounce into camp with our ultralight packs carrying only the essential essentials, set up camp and head over to that perfect-sized rock to sit girl inside boy with his arms around her shoulders and steaming hot cocoa to inspire deep conversation.

And that's just the beginning.

What really happened:

We got eaten by mosquitoes whenever we stopped to take a picture, make that cup of hot cocoa, or attempt an embrace. So, we hid inside our tent. We swam. We hiked, very fast. You wouldn't know all that by looking at my {taken with great bravery and self-sacrifice} pictures. Unfortunately, mosquitoes are hard to capture in a frame.

Yes, we had bug spray. No, we didn't have enough.
What's more essential than your favorite trail mix? We mixed up what we could find in the cupboard on short notice and thoroughly enjoyed it, despite the weight it added to our packs. Cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, craisins, and mini m&ms.

We ate super well, my husband being the backcountry chef that he is. He bakes. We had cornbread and lentils for one meal. Rice and stir-fry for another. And spaghetti and parmesan.
My husband commented today that I must be a die-hard romantic. Not sure if he meant that as a complement or not.

Maybe he heard my internal dialogue as we were leaving the city {things I imagined myself doing while in Portland}:
shopping at little tiny fabric shops, or really big ones
gazing and photographing mount hood reflecting in trillium lake
listening to live music in the park
browsing for hours at powell's books
photographing city life
exploring downtown bakeries and eclectic eateries
lying on the grass in the rose garden, smelling and letting my mind wander
trail running in forest park
harvesting peaches on sauvie's island
rollerblading by the river
photographing sunsets dancing around mt hood
shopping at the troutdale outlets
Of course, our week wasn't quite like that. My husband had more stress than usual at work. I had two energetic children to entertain. Traffic was a bit of a beast at times. My camera got zero action. Clouds surrounded the mountain.

But last weekend? This other mountain? It was right there. Right there, cheering our aching feet and tired shoulders along the trail. It was splendid. As long as we ignored our screaming body parts.
Bottom line:
We'll always be dissatisfied here on this planet. We've been created for more. We want more intimacy and romance in relationships. We want more adventure, more intrigue, more excitement; then we want more peace, more quiet, more serenity.

So I think it's time to imagine heaven, with all its beyond-my-understanding amazingness. And it's time to count the blessings of this life, as they come, imperfect as they may be.

I'll thank God for the gifts of today and live happy inside that place of longing. Longing for more than this earth will ever offer. Longing for heaven.