She looks happy, doesn’t she? She goes between pretending to be Elizabeth Bennet and Aero, her avatar in Skyrim. Next time we bicker about which footpath to take, I expect she’ll say, “Fuck you, Mr. Darcy,” and hit me with her imaginary sword that’s 27 fire power. She’s got some bad temper.
She can’t be bothered with the topographical maps or even the compass. She was sorely disappointed that I bought one made of plastic. She wanted one straight out of Pullman’s The Golden Compass—all brass and steampunk. She tells me she wants to feel her way west like true explorers do—she sees herself as Aero jumping over cliffs and forging rivers, meeting strangers and completing quests to save a village, stumbling into caves and finding magic treasure. I think she’s delusional in her view of the world.
She loves staying above the pubs between those daily 15 miles, but she complains they don’t serve red wine. I listen to her vacillate between the lamb stew and the salad. And when she chooses the lamb stew, she complains about how she’s aging into a very wide woman.
I know behind that temper and fantastical thinking there is a woman who worries no one truly loves her. I see her darkness and her hurt in all the spaces in between.
She’s laughing now on that stile, telling me to hurry up and that she gets final say on the photo.
I’m going to ask her to marry me at the end of the Dales Way.
I hope she says yes.