A Series of Introductions
How does one introduce themselves as they begin an experience that will modify, add to, and prune away the different branches of their personality? How can I not pigeonhole myself as “funny,” “serious,” “goofy,” “crunchy,” “pugnacious,” “type A,” “introverted,” or “loquacious?” Bear with me. This series of introductions is an attempt to provide a more multi-faceted view on who I am and what the heck I am doing here…
Do you like to laugh? How about cry? Fair warning: There will likely be a lot of both along this journey.
I have been preparing for around 9 months for the Appalachian Trail and in my head for longer than that. Many sources were consulted from thru-hiker memoirs, to youtube, various websites (The Trek among them), podcasts, and yes, even our dear friend REI. Some of the advice was taken seriously. I am going with the double layer toe-sock-wool-sock method. I am a side sleeper, so I got a blow up pad. One of my nightmares is waking up with a snake in my sleeping bag, so I ditched the sleeping bag for a quilt (really nothing to do with the fictional snake) and decided that tenting will probably keep me the most sane. Other advice has been resolutely ignored. My Hoka One One boots have been wonderful for the 60ish miles of break-in. Perhaps one day, I will join the ranks of the trail runner obsessed. Until then, I love my boots; leave me alone. Because my brain has been infected by years of study in nutrition, I have been preparing meals for my trip and plan on living by mail drop for most of my journey. If this does not work out, I am not married to this plan and I fully believe it will all be okay whatever may come. Who knows?! Maybe I will gain some much needed “chill.” However, preparing meals was a great way to practice creativity and procrastination (she says as the smell of dehydrating chicken wafts through the cozy living room and the dog salivates).
I am not walking for anyone or anything other than myself.
There is a discrepancy between who I am and who I want to be. Don’t get me wrong, most people would be happy to have my life! I have a ton of quality friends. I am talking cream of the crop amazing people who have all been tested in a “when the going gets tough” kind of way. I have two wonderful sets of parents, siblings, and a whole horde of nieces and nephews. My house is picture perfect. I love the Pacific Northwest where I live. Oh, and I have a goldendoodle. Yes, a freaking teddy bear dog who loves to play fetch, greet me when I get home, and cuddle. I have it all and I am deeply grateful for it… But I have reaped where someone else has sown. I am living a life prepared for someone else, for another dream, like the vestige of perfection. Getting to the point, I have most of this because a handsome, organized, kind, experienced hospice nurse met an indebted, misplaced, uncertain medical student and fell in love. It’s a beautiful story, to be sure. It’s the kind of story where the gawky heroine is swept away by a knight in shining armor who sees all of her beauty and few of her flaws. Let me let you in on a little secret. Fairytales don’t always have a happy ending. Sometimes they end in a 2,000 mile long march for sanity.
One of my goals is to meet Grandma Gatewood on the trail. Since she is dead, I am not sure how this will come to pass, but one can hope.
I was 24 when I became a full-time caregiver and quit graduate school. I was 26 when I became a widow. Somewhere in between there, I decided that I needed a reeeeeeaaalllly long walk.
My hope is that this first post was completely unsatisfying. My promise to you, dear reader, is that eventually it will all make sense. Come on back as I start my journey and continue to explore life after it all falls apart.
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