I wasn’t going to write you again so soon…
But here I am with my Portland-brewed coffee porter in my hand, and my stomach full of a Patriot Meal ™, sitting clean and warm and dry on the carpet of this fine, wonderful hostel like a small torpid mushroom.
I don’t actually remember what torpid means; but I like that word.
The Patriot Meal ™ fills my tummy with feelings of patriotism. It’s like a magical unicorn, except instead of shooting prisms and rainbows out of my glorious resplendent shining mane, I… um… I’m…. not sure where I was going with that. Never mind. Moving on. Here’s a picture of it. It’s chicken-flavored cheesy rice. Vegetarian. Mm. In the fine china that I carry with me everywhere on the trail, aww yisssss.
Anyways, besides being a self-sufficient patriot, I sat in the gleaming sunshine by a shelter this morning and wrote application essays in my notebook, because I’d like to get to Svalbard and the only way we get to do nice things around here is by pretending we can write. Let’s be real; if it was by pretending we could hike fast, we wouldn’t have accidentally taken two-and-a-half-weeks to go sailing around the coast of Maine like a bunch of hooligans. These are the childhood dreams that I never knew I had: to walk bedraggled and poor down docksides, and look at the ships there, and say things like, yo got any space on this trip, and have your captains say things in reply like: “Get down in the bilges, you vagrant.”
…Just kidding. Really that was my projection. Really, they just said, Oh, hi, you again. Sure, come on board, we’ll feed you gourmet cruise food and house (ok, ship) you for five straight days, and we’ll go sailing around the islands off the coast of Maine, watch the mola molas, see a baby porpoise off the stern; come play our piano! Haul on these lines. Let’s cook lobsters on this beach. They’re soft-shell. (That’s the best kind.)
Anyways, so… childhood dreams.
There are many different types of folks on this trail; there are those who take time out of their lives to walk across these mountains, and those who walk across the mountains with their lives fully intact. The land is a part of us, whether we choose it or not.
Anyways, I finished writing, and hiked across a couple mountains before running into two section hikers- (folks who’ve been working on completing the AT, piece by piece, over the course of multiple years). I asked where they were getting off, and they said, “Oh, we’re taking the lift off the top of this mountain!”
Lift? There’s a lift up here?? My trail guide didn’t say anything about a ski lift. It’s because it was half a mile further to the top, up a side trail, Best Beloved. Straight up. But where there are lifts, there is ice cream, and we all know where my hiking motivation comes from. Yay. So I took the lift down (it was free on the down trip, Best Beloved), and all the restaurants were closed, so we went off onto the road and found the grocery store. With ice creams. Huzzah. Then Cindy looked at us and said, “I’ve got this.” And there it was, a pint of ice cream, all in my hands and wonderful and chocolatey. Ultra huzzah. Then they said, “Oh, have you checked out that hostel two minutes down the road?”
Hostel? There’s a hostel here?? My trail guide doesn’t say anything about a hostel. It’s because it is new, Best Beloved. “I didn’t budget for this,” says I. Oh well, says Cindy. Too bad. So we went to a hostel, and that was a gift too, this being clean and sleeping in a bed. I don’t know. Such overwhelm. Too many huzzahs.
Now here we are. You. Me. Sitting here looking at our screens and thinking about our lives. (Ok… Maybe that’s me. I am in a constantly bemused state. Constant. Bemused.) I’m also thinking about how I probably have another 4 miles to hike in the morning up a gravel road, then 2.5 or something to the top of the mountain I took the lift down from, then the same hike back northwards, because darn lifts don’t run on ye olde Mondays. Durn lifts. Whoops. Worth it for the ice cream alone. If only I weren’t a box checker. If only.
It’s ok, though. Time is different in these mountains, you see. You can hold it in your hands; this time; and watch it flow, through the sun and the rain (and mud. Always the mud, here in Maine).
Humans are small. That is all I mean to say. These mountains: they are old. We are very small, here.
Hum. Anyways, we live in a crazy world. Much love. Please send me letters and tell me how you are.
P.S. Oh wait. I haven’t updated my contact information. Um…. send me emails?
I always take time to read your letters. It only takes a few minutes to read about your most recent few days on the trail. Here, school is starting again, and I get another opportunity to teach some students things they never knew existed, and might be quite useful for them in their careers some day. But probably not while they are doing something exciting like hiking the AT or sailing in a windjammer, in a universe parallel to mine.