Day 174: The Spell Breaks

Felix, now Adrian (Felix’s “real” name), flew back to Salt Lake City today. Boomerang, now Avry again, went to work shortly after. I spent the afternoon and evening alone.

After two months always with Boomerang and Rainbow Dash followed (after a miserably lonely month with myself for company) by two straight months with Felix day in day out, being alone feels so strange. I feel as if I am missing something, lying in bed watching Netflix as if I had never left my apartment and started at the Mexican border.

I went and got coffee and picked up groceries and sat in Barnes and Nobel looking at magazines. I stood in line and waited at crosswalks and answered emails. I watched YouTube tutorials and put on makeup and took selfies. I gathered up the solitude of life in a city around me, feeling its folds and hearing its rustle, so different than the silent loneliness of life in the woods.

The day was so strangely like a million other days I have lived, I was taken by surprise. On the PCT, no day is like any other. In civilization, every day has a similar rhythm and a scheduled flow. In civilization, I feel stagnant, which is why I roam.

I read a piece today by another lustful wanderer. She discovered in her road trip out west this summer that she had been avoiding herself by always making plans to adventure and never living in the moment while at home. She made a decision to not travel, to set down roots and try and sit with herself for the first time in her life.

I sometimes wonder if I am like her — avoiding myself to be with the world. But then I come home to my computer and sedentary lifestyle -and mountains of “shoulds” and endless social norms. Then I realize that routine is the last place I can be me.

Today, with Felix’s departure, the spell was broken. No longer could I pretend that this was just another rest before one last big push. No longer could I deny that I am re-entering the life I lived before. No longer could I call myself Pine Nut.

For I am not a thru hiker anymore. Today I am Aer again: adventure seeker, sports dabbler, freelance writer. Today I lie in bed watching hours of TV and wishing I was doing anything else. Today I have picked back up where I left off. Today I am forced to wonder if anything has ever changed.

But tomorrow, tomorrow there will be a journey. For I am already spinning plans filled with mad excitement and pain and discovery, and Adrian is already downloading our maps for the Continental Divide Trail (stay tuned for my 2017 hike!).

And right now, in this moment, I feel real peace. Right now I am where I need to be, living my life and gathering strength for that next big thing. Right now, my old life feels okay.