Readjusting to society has been hilarious.
My first night back I was tumbling around the house touching everything, yelling about how excited I was. FOOD in the FRIDGE?! A hot MEAL?! A TOILET?! CLOTHES that don’t smell like a moldy barn?!
It felt shocking and exciting to have so much again. I was no longer living out of a smelly backpack. I was in a cozy house that smells good with a little puppy dog and a bed.
Lots of things shook me upon re-entering society, and I wasn’t really expecting them all.
- Clothing Options. It takes me at least 30 minutes to get dressed just because I’m overwhelmed by the excess of options I have now.
- Toilets? So you’re saying I can’t just pee wherever I want whenever I need to?
- Chest prisons – I’m sorry, “bras.” They are the most uncomfortable contraption.
- Every shoe except my hiking boots feels WRONG AND TERRIBLE ON MY FEET.
- Lights. Oh, you mean you CAN hang out with people past sunset?
But then I began to notice some bigger changes.
#1: Time is really difficult to fill.
Suddenly, I had nothing to do all day. My first morning back in society I woke up, got out of my comfy bed, ran 4.5 miles, and returned home to a breakfast of pop-tarts and a peach.
By then it was only 9am.
I had SO MUCH TIME LEFT IN THE DAY. Hiking was difficult, sure, but it consumed my entire day. On the AT, I was guaranteed activities to stimulate my ever shifting mind. I had to complete my morning and evening chores, I had to walk, I had to climb mountains. I was constantly moving through a beautiful world.
And now I am in a house. It feels more like a ball and chain – not even a prison. I can leave, but my days are filled with uncertainty. I don’t know what to bring with me because I don’t know what’s going to happen. There are too many “things.” I am dragged down by the idea of stationary living. It requires too much “stuff.” Stuff like thoughts, tools, fabric, repair kits, medicine, comfort items. There’s so much to be prepared for, but it almost doesn’t matter what you have. All these “things” you have create a false safety net idea.
#2: I have so much patience.
As my mom entered one of her fiery moods, I sat quietly and listened. This might sound simple to you, but just think about the way you treated your mother when you were in your twenties. I am not proud to say that I used to fight back often, but I think that’s just what happens when you’re twenty-three and stupid, and she’s worried about you.
But now? The problems of every day life seem so laughable. I don’t mean that in a degrading way! I mean that to say I honestly forgotten what stressed people out. I’d completely forgotten what creates drama in daily life.
A deep calm has occurred within me. My shoulders are finally no longer stuck into my ears. I am only carrying the things I need to carry. I am greeting the world with open arms and a sturdy patience that did not exist inside me before.
#3: I’ve changed, but nothing else has.
It’s all the same back home. Maybe that’s an unfair statement, I mean, SOME things have changed. But for the most part?
Things seem to change at a glacial rate in society.
Coming back has really emphasized the fact that I have not become a different person. I am still me, but I am a little bit better at doing that. I am more honest with myself. I am stronger. I feel better, and I treat people better.
No matter what happens? I know now for a fact that everything is going to be ok, and I need to continue to
Live in the spirit of adventure.
I am focused on improvement, but most importantly: BREAKING THE CYCLE. That’s right! Fuck the cycle. It is so stupid. I am NOT going to do the same thing over and over again.
I am not going to skip a one night trip to McAfee’s Knob just because it’s a 3 hour drive away.
Because look at that sunrise, and this beautiful little pup.
Don’t let go of the things that are important to you.
So now I am going to continue to stumble through life, living in Richmond, VA with my cousins (and OG trail family member Walkamole!!!!) and keep on earning money so I can get tattoos and have more adventures.
Who knows what’s in store next!
For now, all we can do is