In these modern times the therapy market is booming with self-help books, talk shows, relaxing CDs, day spas and the usual pill that’s suggested by four out of five not so known doctors. However, sometimes all you need is a day away from the market. On a day with an acceptable weather forecast and a need for a self- or relationshiprenovation, Mt. Esja offers that and so much more.
On a sunny day in July, my husband and I packed some food, a camera and sent the baby off to grandma’s house. We only had one goal in mind – the top of Esja. At 914 meters high and about 20 kilometres long, Mt. Esja answered our prayer for some peace, quality time and an opportunity to work together to accomplish a monumental task. Like so many couples who have spent years together, life can start to look like an assembly line. Everyone does their part everyday the same way to produce the same product. In our case, we had spent the previous two months focusing our time and energy on our newborn. Not that we do not completely adore and unconditionally love our child, it was just also certain that we needed time to breathe differently, to get to know one another as individuals again and to step away from our roles as “the one that breastfeeds” and “the one that changes all the poopie diapers.”
In theory we were going to be the super-athletic power couple that dominated the mountain in a record breaking time of 45 minutes. However, after realizing that I had given birth eight weeks prior and that he did not possess the Beckham-like form he once had, we decided that on this hike we were going to take it slow and use the time to stop and smell the roses for once. Our decision was also assisted by the fact that an elderly couple with walking sticks and their two children passed us quite speedily on the way up. At that point we looked at each other and knew that our competitive egos could take at least one day off.
Before we even reached level one I was blaming him for the heat and for lending me the wrong pants to wear. (I actually thought he was sabotaging the trip by being better prepared than I was.) This of course completely annoyed him, forcing him to walk even faster and leaving me to lag behind and grow even more frustrated. The horizon looked bleak with the premature bellyaching and the little frustrations from the heat and fatigue. However, after we cooled down a bit by stripping down to tank tops and shorts and gulping down two bottles of orange-flavoured Gatorade, we got back on track and reminded each other of the day’s purpose.
As the trek fared on we reminisced about when we first met and how much our lives had changed since then. We caught up on what was going on in the world around us and what we had missed while being caught up in the charms of parenthood. We stopped to get water straight from the stream and laughed at how far we had to go to the top. He worried about me when I lost my balance on the sharp jagged rocks to level five, while I listened as he shared his knowledge of the mountain and his experiences of its beauty from his childhood. When we finally reached level five we stopped to snack on the power bars and fruit from our backpack and decided to rest for ten minutes before trudging our way to the very top. In those ten minutes it started to get a little cold and at that point we had been away from the baby for almost three hours. The best part of the trip happened in the next 30 minutes. As I clearly did not want to go on, my husband lovingly put his foot down and confirmed that we were going to finish what we started. He jokingly commented that if we didn’t finish this one adventure it would lead to a life of unfinished projects. Although his joke bled with comedic exaggeration, he was right on point and I had to give in.
For the last bit of the hike he got behind me and pushed both physically and mentally. It was teamwork in its truest form and I appreciated him so much more for the motivational edge. I realized that when someone loves you that much it’s their job to push you in ways that make you stronger and realise your full potential. When we finally reached the top it felt as if we had joined this exclusive club as we visually absorbed every speck of the most breathtaking view of the city of Reykjavik. The experience was surreal and yet provided my husband and me with such tangible memories of one of the best days we have had together. So next time you need a break, remember Dr. Esja, couches not included.