She set a table in front of me and handed me a box of colored pencils, asking me to draw a picture of what a healthy relationship looks like. I considered the question, straightening the blank piece of paper before I pulled a brown colored pencil out of the box and drew a picture of the mountains, carefully shading in the couloirs and crags. ————————————————————————
I set down the colored pencil, put my hands in my lap. “I drew adventure,” I tell her, wiping my sweaty palms against my jeans, testing out an explanation for why adventure is my safe space for relationship. ————————————————————————
“When you set out on an adventure with someone, you know at some point you’re going to crack. Maybe you’re too tired or hungry or scared or whatever. But you’ll snap. Usually over something stupid, like trying to unwrap a cheese stick with gloved hands after you’ve spent far too long on your skis. Or maybe you’ll be halfway up a pitch and the exposure will get to you and you’ll start trembling and crying and you won’t be able to stop. But that’s just part of the adventure, it’s part of the relationship. There’s space for it.” ————————————————————————
“Space for what?” she asks. ————————————————————————
My hands move up, as if searching for the words that get stuck between me and the rest of the world. “Space to be angry or frustrated or scared or flawed. Space to fail, to be imperfect. Space to try. We're so afraid to be imperfect and that fear gets in the way of connection and healthy relationships, but that space is built into my adventures. It's inevitable and it's allowed. And so it becomes safe."