Approaching the PCT: An Intolerance for Staleness

After nearly 24 hours on Amtrak’s Empire Builder, the scenery finally becomes marginally more dramatic when approaching Williston, ND. Just as brown as anywhere else in early spring, but with the occasional texture of high desert lumps and bumps emerging from tufty plain.

The PCT countdown on my phone flashes “2 days, 22 hours, 27 seconds,” and I pause from another screening of Bohemian Rhapsody.

I want to conduct myself through life with the fervor of Freddie Mercury. My impression is reflective of bold self-assurance in the face of self-conceptualization and personal confusion. How did he execute these simultaneously, and with sparkling certainty?

These days I can barely be certain about breakfast, let alone my life’s work. It took too long to realize my substance abuse and eating disorder stole my goals from me. I once wanted to write for Rolling Stone. I haven’t even read an issue since I was 18, (but mostly because it now features HBO actresses instead of rock legends). What are people reading these days instead?

I don’t wish to be so lachrymose. And I am sick to death of being sick.

I use to envision my life in daydreams; a traveling poet, fancying myself a Kerouac character, though of perhaps a more sober inclination.

“The only thing I can offer the world is my confusion,” Kerouac wrote.

How’s that for a juxtaposition of poetic influencers? The assurance of Mercury. The objectivity of a Dharma Bum. And me, stuck somewhere amidst the two.

I’m starting to find frayed and ragged bits of a person I was long ago, scattered across the country. Tucked in library corners, inside yellowing and dog-eared books. In train cars with smeared window panes, cookie crumbs in the Navy seat cushions. Where the air is conditioned and recycled, making my throat tender with aridity.

But this sickly atmosphere hearkens back to how every decision I’ve made in recent months has led me to this looming moment when I will set my feet upon the trail. An intolerance for staleness.

I move to release the wisps of memory that no longer serve me, and to recover the truest bits of my spirit I’ve hidden. To unearth the fears I’ve buried, from beneath many, many miles of dirt salve.

There is only forward motion, and in this moment, it carries me west.

Photo Courtesy of Adrian Carrio.

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