I am a sucker for Instagram marketing.  Despite being intellectually and spiritually aware that stuff is not a measure of one’s life, I have a weakness for gear and clothes and cocktail accoutrements.  This would be an embarrassing revelation if I was not becoming less concerned with appearances in my advancing age.  The algorithm has me dialed, a direct glimpse into my taste and desires.  It is clear that all of my devices are spying on me, a fact that doesn’t seem much to bother me, being an open book and all.  And, even though my phone was on airplane mode while on the hut trip, it must have caught snippets of the inevitable scatological talk that characterizes close quarters.  Because, apparently, I am now in the market for a bidet.

By the time that the last couple arrived by the light of headlamp, shaking the blowing snow off themselves, the crew was already well on its way to settled in.  Although this was the first time that the ten had been together in this particular permutation, all were sufficiently well-acquainted to hang around in longjohns, bantering freely.  Sunset had been killer, either viewed from the deck’s expanse or else from tree line on a post-arrival bonus skin.  Dinner was beginning to come together, wine was being poured, cards were being played, the energy was warm and welcoming.

Regardless of how confident one presents from the outside, we as humans are a ball of insecurities, discomforts, and self-flagellations.  We often possess a creeping sense that we are on the outside of a joke that everyone else finds hilarious, our fear being that it is our existence that serves as punchline.  We build defenses, fortresses around our hearts, around our essences.  We move through the world cautiously or else we feign strength and bulldog our way through.  Even  though we have more in common with each other than we have differences, we create an operative fiction that we are not all slaves to the same bodily processes, the same frailties, the same inconveniences.

The outhouse was luxe as hut facilities go, a double stall stocked with plenty of toilet paper.  Still, it was a compost-based system, meaning that it was not exactly a pleasant space to spend more than the strictly necessary amount of time.  With beans having a starring role in dinner, it was not long before the pretenses slid away and we all embraced our shared concerns over digestive inevitabilities.  Everybody poops and everyone finds it humorous if given an environment in which one can feel comfortable to just be.

The hut was roomy, especially as we had not reached its maximum capacity.  But, still, we were a bunch of stinky ski-touring cats all stacked on top of each other, all with our own idiosyncrasies.  Some snored, some drank enough water (or beer) to step on the squeaky step multiple times a night, some tossed and turned in their crinkly sleeping bags, some were devoted to keeping the fire going all night.  Sleeping at 11,000 feet is never easy.  But, in the middle of the first night, as I stepped into the frigid air on the way to the bathroom, it struck me dead:  I was with my people.  I was surrounded by those that accept me, no matter how smelly, flatulent, goofy, strange, spaced out, slow, or otherwise not ideal I was or would become.

The epiphany assaulted me as violently as the odor; I was so lucky to have multiple gangs of people with whom I can be myself, with all of the glories and ignominies that entails.  Fortunately, not only are these folks incredibly accepting, but they also happen to be funny and brilliant and accomplished and fast.  And then, just as I recognized my good fortune, my heart sank for those not as privileged, who keep friends because they are perceived to be cool, who are subservient to the pressures and codes of an inauthentic relationship, who are never comfortable because they must always adhere to an impossible idyll.

It takes a while to find your place, to find the people who will love you unconditionally, who will give of themselves more than they will take.  As we undertake that arduous journey, there will be disappointments, heartbreaks, breakdowns, frustrations, questionings of sanity.  But once ensconced in the velvety embrace of genuine connections, comfortable with our discomfort, all of those misfires will seem a distant memory.  Let the fart jokes commence.