For a couple of years in my late teens, Yosemite National Park was the place I called home. I didn't spend every month there, but I always returned from wherever I'd gone, and when I was away, I longed for the park.
Last week, after an absence of decades, I returned again. Walking through the valley I felt the years peel away. The dogwoods were in bloom, the waterfalls were thundering. The ice-streaked granite, the rippling meadows, the aroma of crushed pine needles underfoot -- all of it made me dizzy with memory.
For years I'd kept a little replica Yosemite in my heart, buried as deeply as a myth. Now I was in the real Yosemite again. It was no myth; it was exquisitely alive. The rains had long ago washed my handprints from the rocks, but I looked for them anyway, hoping there was still something of me here, awaiting my return.