Wow, scaling Half Dome was way too much for you. You used to be able to do this kind of hike in your twenties with no problem. What happened? Have you just gotten really out of shape, or is your body already slowly decomposing in anticipation of death?
Remember when life felt like the boundless ocean view at sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain? When did it start feeling more like sitting in Bar Harbor traffic on the Fourth of July weekend? Was it when you gave up your dreams of becoming a wildlife conservationist for the steady paycheck of a corporate tax auditor, or when you stuck with that dead-end job for nine years and counting?
Looking at this gigantic chasm the Colorado River has carved out of the landscape just reminds you of how little you’ve accomplished in your time on earth. On the plus side, the canyon is a top-notch void for screaming into.
Everything is on fire.
Cool geyser or whatever. You weren’t really paying attention when everyone else was clapping, because you were busy pondering if 34 is too old to be going to grad school in a last-ditch attempt to cure your chronic ennui. What’s another $100,000 of student debt when you haven’t paid off the last $100,000 yet?
This is a park you totally get. It actually has a lot of great features, like amazing overlooks of Shafer Canyon and a labyrinth of colorful mesas and buttes making up the Maze District. But it’ll never be as cool or popular or pretty as its sister park, Arches, who is not only younger than you, but also a managing director at Goldman Sachs with a perfect husband, three perfect children, and a perfect beach house on Nantucket. God, Lauren can be so insufferable.
Sure, the Going-to-the-Sun Road has jaw-dropping views of ice-capped mountaintops and verdant valleys of Douglas fir. But what’s the point of even having kids when climate change means most of these glaciers will be gone by 2030?
A barren, deserted wasteland that’s home to Badwater Basin, the lowest point in all of North America? That doesn’t seem like the kind of pointed metaphor Lauren would make about your life at last year's Thanksgiving dinner at all.
During your tour of the Fordyce Bathhouse, you can’t help thinking: why is this dilapidated spa in the middle of Arkansas a national park? You wonder if the disappointment you feel about the oldest lands in the national park system, Hot Springs, is anything like the disappointment your parents feel about their oldest child, you.
Actually, you know what? Arches sucks. All those artfully backlit photos of Delicate Arch—which looks unhealthily skinny, just your opinion—may get a ton of likes on Instagram, but you know the truth. Lauren’s just like you: an empty, soulless rock, desperately trying to fill the gaping hole she has inside.