New Hampshire's Franconia Notch state park is part of our personal mythology. For Cynthia and her family it was a necessary passage en route to their relatives in Framingham; it still is to this day, in spite of recent losses. When we met it became a rallying point for camping trips with her cousin Ted and his wife Carrie, midway between their home and ours. It's where we all first discussed the possibility of kids... They now have a girl and two boys to our one boy and two girls—all roughly the same age. That's twelve years in the blink of an eye right there.
And yet in all this time we had never once ridden the aerial tramway to the top of Cannon Mountain. So all fourteen of us crammed into the cabin on a beautiful summer weekend and up we went, the kids' faces glued to the windows. At over 4000 feet, the chill in the air hit us hard as soon as we stepped out and hit the trail towards the observation deck built atop the mountain's peak, hiking past drops going straight down to the bottom of the valley and its tiny, tiny cars moving on the pencil line highway. Truth is I've always had a bad case of vertigo, but the camera... The camera is a shield against everything—hunger, fatigue, fear. Maybe it's a rush of adrenaline sparked by the hunt for images, I don't know. But I become all at once aware and detached from my surroundings, enough to make me immune to any physical obstacle, like there's an added layer to reality.
The views are breathtaking. As we head to the lounge I spot a boy sitting on his own at a table outside, perfectly framed against the skies. I'm sure it was all gone as soon as we walked past: his parents came in or his sisters or brothers and the illusion was broken, the starkness shattered. The scene lives on only for the sake of this story, only for us.
The boy sitting at the top of the world—alone and forever young.