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  • Writer's pictureRachael Yahne

What If The Very Thing You Hate Is Actually The Only Thing You Need?

Accepting life's invitation to see that what we think we don't want, need, or like is often hiding the freedom we crave.

“Thank you for snow,” I whispered.

I could not believe those words came out of my mouth - and that I sincerely meant them. A small voice in my head asked, if lovingly: ‘who have you become?’

Staring out the second-floor window of our apartment in the mountains, a million miles away from the California coast I thought I’d never leave, watching snowflakes the size of cotton balls gently fall from the sky, I said out loud to God(dess): “thank you for answering my prayer.”

Yes, me. A beach bunny. A warm weather baby. A total priss when it comes to snow and winter and anything other than shorts weather.

This is one of those radical moments when the very thing you thought you didn't want in your life becomes the very thing you need. You know these moments. You, too, have stood gob-smacked at the witnessing of your greatest fear or annoyance or inconvenience becoming your saving grace. It's one of those clever tricks of life, the universe having a delightfully dark sense of humor, that humbles us with a swift kick in the ass out of the nest of our comfort zone to show us: lo and behold, we can fly after all.

How did we get here?

I experienced cold in every possible sense here as a kid - metaphorically, physically, and spiritually. The winters felt desperate and dead to me, haunting in their inaccessibility and derived of vibrancy. The land felt empty, and the air confining. When I left the PNW for LA I promised myself I’d never be back. A short few years in New York City reaffirmed my need for constant warmth and light, again metaphorically, physically, and spiritually. Now on my second stint in LA, I rely on the year-round sunshine and palatable temperatures. My skin, my heart, my mind are used to that way of life, only ever trapped inside for a few days at a time for rain's sake, never snow. I believed I needed that warmth to survive, that I could no longer make it in harsh places like these mountains.

But then Beloved began to say again and again an old lifty motto: "Pray for snow." Without it, he’d be out of a career and at a loss for one of the greatest joys of his life; ripping recklessly down the side of a mountain, spray powder and exhilaration in every direction. Just the other day he sent me a photo early in the morning standing at the top of a peak he had hiked to ("It was only an 8-minute hike!" he said, as if schlepping up a snowy slope carrying a snowboard was so easy) and was about to ride down a double black diamond. Who does that!?

But the more he said the prayer, the more I began to turn the wheels of my mind in his favor. Because I wanted him happy. Because I loved when he was living his joy out loud.

Then we chose a wedding date in the height of fire season. My family was the first to say: if there’s not enough snow this winter, chances of wildfires increase. On the day that Beloved and I found each other again last summer, 15 years after we’d broken up in our early 20s, the fires were raging in the area. We weren’t meant to be outside, but he was so excited to show me his favorite places that we braved the smoke and into the forest, we trudged with brown-grey air and the sun peeking through so timidly that you could stare directly at it. It glowed orange through the heavy air and only in the depths of Priest Lake trees was there any clarity to what we were breathing.

Like a sci-fi movie, we spent the day as two familiar strangers, hopping from one sticky wooden bar to the next, only braving the Mars-like atmosphere outside for short stints at a time, embers between us beginning to reignite and produce heat with each passing hour as the mountains around us continued to blaze.

We fell back in love in an apocalypse.

And now, on this fantastically snowy morning, as I eat hot oats and coffee and bundle myself up to ski for the day, I can’t believe how far we’ve come, from fire to ice. I can’t believe how far I’ve come, from a California baby to an aspiring mountain lady (but hopefully not too feral) able to brave the cold and stare down the mountains and even speak to them in loving whispers, asking for advice. Holding hands with a man she didn’t think she’d ever know intimately again, deeply in love with him and her life, cold and all, and no longer fearful of the snow but instead profoundly grateful for it.

I’ll be praying for it. Thankful for winter. Excited for the fertile, abundant, and warm summer ahead made possible only by this snowy landscape. Finally, so much more accepting of the seasons of life and cherishing that though this season may be the hardest yet - with harsh conditions and a full plate of planning and a full-time job and so much travel and transiency - it will bear us a beautiful summer where our union can come to fruition.


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