One month ago today I finished the Pacific Crest Trail. One month ago today, almost at this instant, I was nearly running down the trail, my heart carrying me a little faster than my legs wished to go. I was pulled forward by a overwhelming excitement, by a desire to see what would happen next, by a knowledge that anything was possible in the world — that I could go anywhere, see anything, do anything.
Directly after my momentous achievement, that moment in time where life was opening up and thrill was blooming (like this:
I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
— e.e. cummings), I sunk into a post-hike depression.
It was short lived — thriving on the jarring nature of being thrown into the masses of humanity all bunched up together on concrete streets after months quietly in the woods — but it was a shock to the system. I wondered if I was going crazy again. I wondered if it would ever get better. I wondered how anyone could live in this world. I wondered why I submitted to the insanity of our societal structure.
And then I visited Rainbow Dash for huge doses of wild and talks and empathy and love. And then I saw my parents for the comfort of a home I’ve known for my whole life. And now I’ve been back in Seattle for less than a week.
Life is the same as it was before the trail, which is the weirdest feeling of all. I am back to remembering how work works and why waiting in line is necessary and what it is like to be near people and when to wake up and go to bed. I can do chores and be accountable and make plans and stick to timelines. I have found that time isn’t my own anymore and the pace the world moves at doesn’t match the rhythm of my heartbeat.
But, you must want to know, how is it? What has changed? What do I miss most?
Being back is hard. It is easy. It is life.
Change is a funny thing: it is hard to see from close up. Avry (Boomerang) tells me I am better at taking pain, I whine less, I am back to my normal self. I feel more confident in myself than I ever have. I still have whiffs of an idea that the world is meant to be explored, and I can do almost anything I set my mind to. I learned to write more honestly. I found out that I am capable of being with myself. I loved myself for the first time in my life.
Most of the time, because I am so far back into my present groove, I don’t think about the trail. It feels as if it didn’t ever exist. But when I let myself wander back in time, I miss it all. I miss the deep green smells and the late wake ups and the scrunching down into sleeping bags. I miss the scariness of walking through the dark and flopping down to eat on rough bark and laying on crinkling Tyvek in the dappled light of hushing trees. I miss the miles of sand and the open sky and the mean, jagged peaks. I miss feeling part of the world.
I miss feeling so small, so connected, so me.