When I step outside of the house, it is so cold that my nose almost falls off. I can barely hold on to it and pull my rainbow hat deep into my eyes. My American friend had to borrow me one of his hats because I lost my own in Germany and it can get damn cold in the Rocky Mountains in the middle of Octobe.
By the way, I always lose something. On this day, above all, my mind. In a place that spoke to me without saying a word.
I'm telling you about the roaring silence of Bighorn Canyon, about soulmates, infinity and moments that change your entire life silently.
And yes. I froze my ass off without a hat and jacket for this photo - just to look cool.
We're in the car and I try not to complain about the cold weather. Because that always causes my caring friend to turn on the heater and makes me feel like a sissy. I want to resist the wintry autumn in Wyoming with a real cowboy-attitude by not even twinkling once. My eyelid flutters because I'm lying.
We leave his small town with the wooden houses and the swinging traffic lights over the wide streets. And follow the road right into the countryside.
Countryside - they have a hell of a lot of that in Wyoming. This State has the second lowest density of population in the USA, only topped by Alaska. The gray asphalt with the yellow center stripe runs through the landscape like petrified lava. And my heart jumps through the windshield because I can't hold it back anymore. I love this country. I already felt something very special at this place on my big trip last year and coming back has not made it any better. Dark clouds are scattered all over the steel-blue sky and mountain peaks tear the horizon apart.
After we have walked one of the trails, I discover something that looks like a terrace of red rocks. It immediately attracts my attention from a higher view point. Especially because there seems to be no official way down. "I'm almost in the mood to climb down to this spot," I say.
"Well, then we will do it," my friend says and walks off.
I am smiling in amazement. Just do it. Just be a little bit crazy. Together we can talk and laugh while driving for six hours. We can picture wild animals in cloud shapes and drive 85 million miles just hike to a stupid waterfall. All the childish and adventurous madness in my head is reflected in his thoughts. With him nothing matters anymore - not the 5.000 miles between us, not all those years between us, not the different nationalities or culture. More than a year ago I met him on my four-month solo trip across the USA. Since then we have been writing e-mails back and forth. If I would print them all out, I could wrap the entire Empire State Building in the paper. I always thought that the term "soulmate" was a romantic exaggeration. But it is all I do feel now.
When you are in the mountains you can usually hear something. The wind is blowing, another hiker is laughing or a car is passing by. At least a bird is twittering. Always. But there is nothing but absolute silence at the abyss of Bighorn Canyon. Literally nothing. I keep trying to listen because I feel like someone had pressed plugs into my ears. I can't believe this is real. There's nothing but silence. The sunlight lets the water appear in different colors. At first green, then brown, then light blue. If I would scream out loud, the sound would simply be swallowed by the magic of the moment.
"Do you hear the silence?" I whisper.
"Yes, I do," my friend answers.
"Have you ever thought about infinity?" I say quietly.
For the next half hour we philosophize like Plato.
Then I just lean against his shoulder and we stop talking. The silence is so incredible that I can hear my own blood rushing through my body. My own thoughts. And our heartbeats. My gaze glides along the walls of the canyon. Deeper, step by step. And I feel a piece of my life crumbling off and falling down forever.
"Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time."
(Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist)