I met her in Tibet of all places. I was putting together a team to hike a 150-mile trek to Mt. Everest. I plastered posters around different hotels to see if there were any bites. Like the old posters luring sailors: "Low pay, long hours, life-threatening. Interested?" My note similarly read: "Treacherous, freezing temperatures, life-threatening and dangerous Everest hike. Anyone interested, contact me at the Lhasa Hotel Room 203."
Two days later, I had four brave volunteers and Leah Seymore was one of them. She is a native Aussie with the most gorgeous eyes I've ever seen and a contagious laugh that I knew would be gold on the upcoming audacious adventure. In two weeks, we covered approximately 12 to 15 miles a day in some of Mother Nature's most harsh mood swings from freezing sleet to tortuously scorching sun spouts. We also stripped down to underwear to wade through arctic, glacier streams as we held our backpacks high above our heads blindly placing frozen foot in front of frozen foot fighting against the clock of increasing numbness.
Despite enduring a fractured right hip myself and Leah almost suffering a brain aneurysm from the perilous altitude, we survived and achieved what for both of us was one of our greatest life milestones. It's fascinating to witness the different kinds of glue that hold people together -whether it's family blood, friendships, lover's intimacy or complete strangers who share a unique experience, there are different variations of life's Elmer's glue that hold us tightly together. For Leah and me, it was hiking on top of the world.
For those of you who have ever traveled abroad, or have similar tails of glue stick adventures, you know that these relationships are timeless and effortless. I’ll never forget Leah telling me as we parted ways, “If you’re ever in Oz, you better look me up.” Well, four years later I took her up on it. The wild part was that as she walked up with her ever so slight swagger, it was like no time had passed at all. We gave each other the four-year cliff notes to catch us up to speed and spent the next two days reminiscing about our bouts with hypothermia, running out of food a day early, and a wicked storm blowing in as hidden natives from the mountains suddenly appeared like angels from the sky and without a lick of English hurried us into their medieval shelters that most likely saved our lives that night. We laughed about how at one point all five of us had a full-blown breakdown and simply sat down, refusing to keep going. By the grace of God, though, we managed to make it. To this day I’m not exactly sure which of my guardian angels was responsible for literally carrying me the last 100 miles or so, but we all crossed that finish line together.
Now the beauty of old friends is that at any moment you can breathe life into that relationship and the old so quickly transforms back into the new. I don’t know when I will see Leah again in person, in what part of the world our paths will find themselves twisting together yet again, but I have no doubt it will be sooner than I think. No matter where or when, I’m sure we’ll pick up exactly where we left off.Images courtesy of Climbing.com, Realsimple.com