Is Home Really Home?
Since being back home from the trail, I miss it terribly. Sure there were bad days. Days that I felt like going home; when I was sick of the pain, when it got emotionally and mentally challenging, and when I doubted myself and my capabilities. I missed my family, my fur-children, and my friends at home. I missed having toenails and the sensation in my right foot. I thought I missed a lot of things.
However, being home has come with its own un-pleasantries. My body has been rejecting standard hygiene. I get super dry skin when I shower daily and sometimes even when I shower every other day. This is perhaps due to the fact that daily showers aren’t an easy option on the trail, and my body adapted to those changes. Deodorant wasn’t really effective either for a while, and I would often forget to use it (some habits are hard to break). My closet smells like a fart now. I should probably burn my sweat saturated gear. Detergent and Febreeze just doesn’t penetrate it.
I’ve become more stressed. Being on the Appalachian Trail, I noticed that my anxieties surprisingly decreased dramatically. Simplifying your life does that. Now that I’m back in society, I realized I’ve forgotten how angry driving makes me, and I recently started grinding my teeth again. I’ve also been having frequent dreams of the trail, and of my teeth falling out. Is this stress or is this overshadowing the whole hygiene thing? Maybe it’s both, who knows? Now that I’m home, whenever I see the word “at,” I light up and think it says A.T. I sometimes will read a sentence in my head this way.
What saddens me most is that now that I’m home, no one gets it. It’s not their fault that they can’t relate, but it still makes returning home a challenge. I find myself feeling socially awkward at times because of it. Sure I’ve gained a lot of confidence in myself and I’m more of a go getter, but even when I am quite literally “home,” I don’t feel that way. It’s something about the trail, and the society shaped around it that feels more like “home” to me.
The trail built my trust in humanity again. In a life full of corruption, political rants, division of class, race, sexual orientation and gender, advertisements emptying pockets while breaking down esteem by filling minds with self-loathing and lust over material things, closed minds and unwelcoming hearts, it’s no wonder! I feel in this life people are slowly dying, while in life on the trail you’re slowly learning how to live again. I guess that’s why I’m drawn back to it and eagerly awaiting the time to return. Even upon completion, I think I’ll return to the mountains again. To my trail family, I miss you all dearly and hope we stay in touch and cross paths again, perhaps on a different trail. I hope your immersion back into society has been easier than mine. I’m back home, but I’m feeling homesick. I’m addicted in a bad way.
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You have definitely put into print what’s been in my head ever since I got back home. All the hubbub and intricacies of getting back into society, trying to get into a routine again…wow, and I thought I had anxieties while on the trail! It’s depressing, frustrating, nail-biting, heartbreaking, disappointing…makes me want to haul my life onto my back again and walk away. But it has been relatively easier, slowly and steadily, just like how I started off on the AT. So that’s how I’ll approach it till I can blaze through life again. ☺️
Thanks for this, Stubbs, and congratulations on your hike. If it”s worth anything, find ways to stay connected to the Trail. You probably took care to grab contact info of people you hikedbwith. Consider gething involved with maintaining the trail thru the PATC or Mountain Club of Maryland. Join ALDHA. Hike whenever you can.
The retry period will run it”s course. Where it leaves you depends on how you do it, just like your hile.
Love reading your story! I am dreaming of getting to thru hike some day. I am on the 5 year plan to retirement!!
Great writing Stubbs! After over 2 years I still think about my journey every day! The thru-hike technically NEVER ends!
-Figgy NOBO ’14