Father’s Day 2018. I woke up in my mountain hostel overlooking the Swiss Alps. The crisp, cold air brushed against my face as I breathed in the fresh pine coating the terrain.
Growing up my dad always loved the outdoors. I spent my weekends hiking up the trails of Oregon Ridge Park by my house in Maryland. It was a part of my life I have always remembered, whether it was when I was a toddler and brought my baby doll hiking with me, or when we would climb all over the playground at the base of the paths, but I always loved the outdoors. One day I will eventually buy him his desired wooden mahogany kayak that he had been obsessing over for years.
“Don’t buy us any gifts, you won’t have room!” said my mom as I was about to embark on my journey across seas. Of course, I already knew that I was going to get my family each a little reminder from my adventures. I hate the souvenirs like teddy bears with the “I heart Budapest” shirts, keychains, or trinkets that say “made in China” on the bottom, so I knew I was only going to get my family gifts that were individualized to their character.
My mom has an intense passion for jigsaw puzzles so the one I found in a quaint store in Switzerland made sense. My grandmother lives in a Texas ranch decorated in beautiful Mexican décor so I got her a handmade rug with vibrant colors after I spent the afternoon with the woman who made them. So, as I thought, what would be good for my dad?
He has never been very interested in materialistic items. I always had to tell my friends growing up my brother was allergic to certain animals, I was allergic to bee stings and then there was my dad who was allergic to shopping. “No, I’m serious. If he goes inside a store he breaks out and can’t breathe,” I would tell them. So, I couldn’t give my dad who is allergic to shopping a gift from a souvenir shop.
As I was trekking down the Alps on my first day in Switzerland, it brought me back to my days hiking with my dad. The thick, lush greenery surrounding dirt paths winding around the mountain reminded me of the trails back home in Maryland. The air was so clean and refreshing, a nice break from the cigarette-soaked smells back in the city of Budapest. However, instead of looking up to clear skies similar to my home town, I gazed up in the areas where the heavens peaked through and saw the enormous mountains disappearing into the clouds.
The further down we walked, we began to hear the faint rumbling of what sounded like a roaring river. As we reached the water, I was amazed by finally making it and running my hand in the piercing cold water. It was the purest taste and the idea of drinking straight from a stream was a foreign idea to me.
Again, I placed my arm in the crisp flow and felt the bottom of the bed. My fingers grazed the slick sheen of a rock being pounded the clear, blue water. I pulled the rock out and realized I had found it. The gift for my dad. It was a piece of my journey, one that I would repeat with him in the future; it was a piece of the Alps.