I woke up too early, groggy with my feverish facebooking late into the night before. I awoke to the sounds of my roommate quietly talking on the phone, making plans with friends in town. I was in a bed, and had an entire day to work on the blog before me. With LTE service everywhere, everything is possible!
I fixed up a few things for the Internet, leisurely stretching out my chores until it was 8am, too late for a hiker to continue lounging around in bed. Although my things were yardsaled all over the room, packing took a shockingly short period of time. But, when you only have 50ish items, how long could it really take?
Then it was off, on a beautiful morning stroll down a bike path (!), to an espresso bar. Yes, you read that right: a real, live espresso bar where they roast their own beans and give you espresso done right (i.e. not out of a “latte machine”). It was playing hipster music from my college days (sooo four years ago!), which made me feel right at home. It smelled of real coffee and there were two massive coils of cold brew streaming down. The menus were in a proper font. They had a logo. It was the closest to Seattle I’ve felt on the trip!
I sat there for four hours. I had a real latte and a real cold brew. I was buzzing so hard it was hard to concentrate. It was hard to talk to Ant. It was hard to edit photos. My skin was coming undone. My heart was racing. My temperature was shooting up and up, higher and higher. Caffeine was in control.
After some time I gathered my wits, and was able to leave. I had a computer to fool around on in the local library, Deet to buy, and a natural foods store to raid. I had parents to talk to and Dash to catch up with. I even had new hiker trash to meet and make friends with.
Town days are busy, especially when you are planning on “neroing” (a near zero mileage day). At 2.30, when I was planning on hightailing it out of town, thunder began to peal and rain clouds gathered quickly. The sky opened and started chucking cats, dogs, chipmunks, mice, and even bear cubs at us. I was shaken up. Would I really go out in the rain?
Today I learned the best thing about being solo for the moment: I call every single shot.
There was a moment in Spain that grew into a new way of thinking. I remember waking up early, before the sun even stirred near the edge of the earth, and realizing I had not one single thing I had to do that day. I had no job, no timeline, not even a real plan. I could do whatever I felt like. My life was my own.
Today, setting out on my hike at 6pm, I felt the same way. I was free — to walk or stop, to push myself or take it easy, to pay attention or distract myself. I was free even from the idea of a thru hike — I was free to leave at any moment. Everything, every single second of every part of today was my choice.
And, now that I am reflecting back on that expansive and slightly terrifying feeling, I am realizing it is true of every moment in my whole entire life. I am free, whether or not I choose to see it.