July 4, 1776: The Declaration of Independence was signed, and the U.S. was born.
July 4, 1998: The weirdness finally got to be too much, and I told Val we needed to separate for a while, and figure things out. Two weeks later, she served me with divorce papers.
The next Spring, after the deal had gone down, I decided I needed a trip to Moab, in order to get my head together. I mentioned it to some friends, and we got a trip together. About a half-dozen of us ended up going.
The first day that we were there, we rode the Slickrock Trail, as usual. We started off with the Practice Loop section, and rode out to Echo Point. Once there, I handed Jen the camera, and instructed her in what I wanted her to capture.
I walked out to the end of the rock, and looked out over Negro Bill Canyon, 300 feet below.
"You ready?" I called over my shoulder.
"Yeah!" Jen called back.
On three, I threw the wedding ring that Valerie had bought me out into the air. Jen snapped the picture, as I watched the silver ring disappear into the depths of the canyon.
I stood at the edge of the rock for a few moments. No one said a word, as I gathered my thoughts.
"That feels good," I said. "I feel like a weight has lifted."
We rode the rest of the weekend, and had a really good time. We had no idea how the picture had come out, since this was back in the Dark Ages when we still shot film, and digital cameras were still science fiction.
Whe we got back to Denver, I dropped my rolls of film off at the 1-hour photo place. When I got the pictures back, I flipped through to find the picture Jen had snapped. I held it up...and smiled. There, in the picture, I was on the edge of the rock, my arm extended at full length.
Six inches from the tips of my fingers was a silver streak, with a round terminus; the blurred image of the ring leaving my hand on its way to oblivion.
As a nation, we have the original Declaration of Independence to look at as a symbol, a talisman, of our independence. Personally, I have that photo of a moment in time when I genually felt that I had left a tough time behind, and could start forming a new life...on my own.