The Other Side of Big Bend

It’s an overcast, rainy day in good ol’ Dallas Texas and somehow I found myself on a rabbit trail searching the archives of Andrew’s blog.  If you ever need to kill an hour or two, this is an easy way to do it.

I came upon “Sharing Big Bend,” our very first adventure together circa 2009.  I couldn’t help but giggle.


Andrew communicates best through photography, obviously.  So the images are plenty and the words are few.

We travel a lot together now and are still figuring things out.  And we have often laughed about our first camping and backpacking adventure together.  Go ahead, take a peek at his post (it’s mostly pictures), then pop back here for the other side of the story of “Sharing Big Bend..”

My hair was a reddish dark brown.  I was slowly changing it from my loud neon orange to brown.  I thought Andrew would like that better.  I joked and called it my “Lebanese phase” since Andrew is half Lebanese.  At the time he was still getting comfortable with my “bright colors” and how they manifested themselves.  And at the time, my bright colors were a little extra fiery if you know what I’m sayin’.


The big day of our trip had arrived and we were so excited.  He pulled up to my place with bluegrass music blaring out the windows and a bright smile on his face.  I jumped in his car with my Roadtrip Playlist all ready to go on my iPod.  I was stoked.  Without even thinking, fully in “Ellen World”, I shut off his music and switched to mine.  Oh my.  Roadtrip Fail #1.

Nine hour drive ahead, and two and half hours later, we finally worked through music rules.  For the car and for the respective homes.  So those giggling smiling pictures of me?  Yes, that was at the end of the drive.  Super low moments to super high moments.  That’s how we tended to flow.


We pulled into our camp site and set up.  We were both tense.  Andrew felt disrespected.  I was confused and didn’t feel safe.  I needed more, Andrew wasn’t ready to commit.  I see the lone picture of the tent.  Even though it is beautifully shot in a beautiful location, all I remember is my anxiety attack where I could barely breathe, the embarrassment, not wanting to do this in front of Andrew, not wanting him there, wanting to be home with my dog and my Mama, wanting to be far far away, somewhere else, anywhere but there.


We woke up the next morning.  The Big Bend desert sun was fresh, new.

A shift happened that night at Grapevine Hills.  My heart took one tiny step away from it’s safe warm place, away from home base, away from the cocoon of my parents, and took one tiny step closer to trusting Andrew.

As I look through the images it’s so clear to me: there’s an insecure and scared girl, hunched over, protective, holding on, guarding.  Then it’s as if a light breaks through and I’m jumping all over the place, pouring out love.

I still find myself pulled back and forth between these two girls, these two depictions; either protectively guarding or overflowing with love.  Balance.. constant search for balance.


The night of my birthday we backpacked up the Chisos Mountains and shared a bottle of wine at the top.  We had already spent a few days hiking around, finding our groove, and deepening the process of communication.

My brain had become quiet and still.  It was filled with the song of my Creator.  This was one of my favorite nights ever.  And Andrew took cheeseball photos where we held hands to commemorate it.


I would love to say that since that trip our dating was sunshine and roses but it wasn’t.  It was awful.  We messed so many things up and hurt each other a whole lot.

Thinking of all we’ve been through, I still find myself in random moments, driving around, the car is quiet, his hand on my leg, my mind wandering off to a painful moment of our past, brain looping brain looping.  Something clicks, I’ll make the effort to stop the cycle, look over at the sweet man who is now my husband, put my hand on his and say, “Can you believe it?  Can you believe how far we’ve come?”


2 thoughts on “The Other Side of Big Bend

  1. Pat Rogers

    Ellen, thank you for being vulnerable and sharing from your heart. Being a “couple” is beautiful, yes, but at times it can be very painful and frustrating, especially when you are being open and honest about the love, the fear and frustrations. Again, thanks for sharing from your heart! Love you, Elle, and very glad you’re part of our family! You and Andrew are so great together. Celebrate what you have together!

    Love you both bunches!
    Pat and Stan

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