Interlude: And I Must Go

The drips from the roof of my apartment – dulled, distant, metallic – sound nothing like the drumming of drips from the pine trees onto my tent, but they keep me awake anyway. I’ve been having a hard time sleeping, sheets feeling strange on my skin, my pillow alternately my favorite part of civilization and just another accoutrement that I don’t need. I’m either too cold or too hot, and while I control the climate now, changing it’s not a simple matter of zipping or unzipping my sleeping bag. So I lie in bed, uncomfortable with comfort, and listen to the persistent plunk of the outside trying to get in.

I’ve been home just under two weeks, and everything I experience is this strange same-not-same, similar in ways, but muted in others. It’s pretty much been town chores on steroids: I’m constantly working, writing, doing laundry, eating food. Too much food. More food than is tenable for this new, sedentary, hunched-over-a-computer-writing lifestyle I’m living. Still, for whatever reason, the real world – what we call the real world – seems much less real than the world I left behind, the world of moments defined by distance, miles, steps. Here, the days just blur, one right into another.

It’s been hard to keep up with a writing schedule – I’m doing a lot of writing for Backpacker still, and I’ve found that writing for myself is harder than I expected. I think the post-trail blues are settling in, and writing my daily entries means exposing myself to my feels. I miss it, miss the trail, miss hiking. Even my body’s conspiring against me in that regard: muscles have memory, too, and they miss being sore, being challenged, seeing new things as much as my mind does.

So I’m headed off to Rocky Mountain National Park to spend a couple of days out. Work all my muscles, jog my physical and emotional memory. Maybe deal with a little bit of snow, although it’s not supposed to be terrible. I’ll have Day 75 up for you folks on Monday – and maybe I’ll even post a schedule I can stick to.

Thanks for understanding.

6 thoughts on “Interlude: And I Must Go

  1. Schrauf says:

    Don’t worry Amanda, we can wait! This is a relevant write-up from Kristy Johnsson via Hikertrash on Facebook:

    This morning I woke up to what I think is one of the most accurate and beautiful descriptions of what coming off of a long trail and returning to society feels like. It was written by Kristy Johnsson, a 2015 Pacific Crest Trail through hiker, and she has kindly let me share it here:

    “Being a thru-hiker is like being a captive orca, born and raised in a tank at Sea World. One day you are put in one of those ocean pens, the big ones for orcas they want to try to rehabilitate and return to the wild. For the first time in your life, you’re in the ocean! You’re home and, while not completely free, you can sense how big and wild it is. You have room to move, room you never realized you lacked back in the tank. You live out there for five months, interacting with other orcas (also from sea world) and other marine creatures. You can’t live fully free in the ocean because you would die out there; you have no idea how to survive totally on your own, but you can sense how vast it is, how amazing life would be if you were free. You feel so alive, no longer having to perform tricks for trainers and crammed in such a small, lifeless space.

    Then, one day, you’re put back in the tank. And you suddenly realize that your entire life you’ve been captive, trained to perform tricks in a small, crowded tank devoid of life except for other captive orcas. The other orcas ask you how your trip was, what it was like. You have no idea how to describe what you experienced and no idea how to tell them what you know now. To tell them there is so much more to life outside the tank, that they are unwitting prisoners unable to live full lives like wild orcas. You’re depressed, but they tell you to get used to being back in the tank, that this is the REAL world and that pen in the ocean was just something fun you did that one time.

    But you know. You felt the tides, met incredible creatures, were no longer controlled by trainers. And every once in a while another orca comes back and you look at each other and wonder… How do we get out this tank? And how do we wake up the others?”

    Liked by 1 person

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