Journals from the HMW – Day 7

The following is an excerpt straight from my journal as Shaaades and I, two run weary North Bounders, trudge through the final Hundred Mile section of the Appalachian Trail before the northern terminus: Mount Katahdin. Follow our hilarious and emotional 6-day trek as we come to grips that our six month journey is finally coming to a close. 

Day 7 September 11th, 8:45am

Started today at 5:30am! I AM FEELING AMPED AND ALIVE.

I woke up with “Into the West” still stuck in my head because Shaaades had been playing almost nonstop the day before. I told him this before I left, and he responded slowly from inside his tent, “Oh really, that’s so strange…especially since…it’s…PLAYING RIGHT NOW!” and I shrugged as it blared through his little red speaker yet again.

It’s becoming the theme of our final days in the woods.

But great news! I’m sitting looking at Katahdin again, and AND AND!!! Two huge things!

  1. THIS: LOOK AT THIS SIGNIMG_6050.jpgKATAHDIN IS ON THE SIGNS NOW BECAUSE WE’RE WITHIN HIKING DISTANCE. 21.2 miles, oh my god.
  2. MY DAD IS OUT HERE SOMEWHERE AT THE NEXT CAMPGROUND HOPEFULLY AND I’M HIKING TO GO SEE HIM!

So, this Lil hiker is off to go find her Padre and get the fuck out of the Hundred Mile Wilderness. 

8:25pm – Katahdin Streams Campground

OH MY GOD WHERE TO EVEN BEGIN!

#1 Most Important Thing:

WE SURVIVED THE HUNDRED MILE WILDERNESS.

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Ah my god it’s amazing to be out. I mean, wonderfully beautiful place. We actually were having an awesome time towards the end there because the weather had gotten better and we got extra food. I still feel relieved to put this part of the journey behind me.

We were not alone in our suffering. There are countless stories of other hikers struggling through this part of the woods.

  • Boundary wrote in a log book, “If there weren’t 48 miles until Katahdin I would quit.” I totally understand.
  • Primo wrote about not having enough food either. He started rationing his food and felt hungry all the time. I feel your pain, baby.
  • 12pack, Coach and their buddy from home hiked 25 miles and nearly passed out on the trail. Then the lost track of each other, their buddy pulled something important in his foot and couldn’t walk without being in pain, they barely had enough food as well. Again, I completely get it.
  • Garbage Can fell waist deep in a river 3 hours after he had finally dried out his shoes and clothes. My god I could cry for you, Garbage.

But we all made it we are all here AND WE ARE SO CLOSE TO KATAHDIN OH MY GOD LOOK AT THESE PHOTOS LOOK AT HOW CLOSE WE ARE

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So we found my dad and Shaaades’ parents in the Hundred Mile and us merry 5 hiked out to Abol Bridge and that’s when this view opened up in the September sunshine. My heart grew and almost burst. I started jumping up and down and laughed out loud. There she was, right in front of us, the mother of all mountains.

That’s when it started to become very difficult to ignore the end. I started to feel like I was moving extremely fast towards a brick wall.

By 6pm we’re doing our last 2.5 miles of regular hiking before going up Katahdin tomorrow and the sun is shining through the trees. I’m trying really really hard to tell myself this is just like any other day, that we’re still somewhere in the middle of Massachusetts, that we’ve still got so much time, that an expiration date doesn’t – no, can’t – exist for this hike.

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And Shaaades is of course, you guessed it, playing “Into the West” and we’re singing along arms stretched out in the sunshine like we’re going to live forever. I really felt amazing in these last 2.5. I felt strong, excited, happy. We were dancing through, literally. I felt young and amazing, like I was in the middle of a great wave. I felt the power of the hiking community, the weight of all those who had trodden this part of the trail before me.

And then we turned a corner and this simple sight knocked me off my feet: you could see Katahdin through the trees. It became wholly impossible to ignore the fact that we were walking impossibly fast towards the end.

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I stopped and said, “Woah.” I felt my heart drop a little. This really was it.

But we danced on, listening to Big Wild and other bands. “That’s the thing, Lil Wayne, I got MOVES,” Shaaades said as he sidestepped along the trail. And let me just tell you this moment – I absolutely loved this shit. This is the type of moment I’m going to treasure forever. I wish someone had filmed it, it was so perfect and free.

Shaaades and I came out of the woods and rolled up to Katahdin Streams Campground dancing, side stepping, arms in the air, smiling, laughing, singing along to music, straight up grooving without a single care in the world.

There was a woman sitting on a rock smoking a cigarette and she laughed with us. We saw her later the next day and she said, “Oh hey it’s the dancing hikers!”

We were the king and queen of the campground. We were so alive. We were so ready for anything. I felt so carefree and…well, there’s just not a correct word to describe it all.

And now we’re in the campground. It’s funny how quickly 2.5 miles pass by when they’re your last. 

Today we walked 20 miles and tomorrow we will walk 9.5, up and over the end of our journey.

And then…and then and then and then. Who knows! I’m slowly starting to lose words as the night falls and the bugs creep in. Sleep feels strange. Shaaades is awake and staring off and smoking a lot of cigarettes. My dad is passed out, he had a time and a half backpacking – I’ll write about that whole experience later, it’s pretty funny.

We are fed (because Dad brought SO MUCH FOOD!!!!! WOOOOH!) and we are waiting patiently for our worlds to be shattered.

And we must move inevitably forward, even if that means towards the end. 

Time to cowboy camp, one last time.

I wish you could see the stars, oh my god.

Goodnight, goodbye, and as always

Fly on.

Lil Wayne.

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Journals from the HMW – Night 6

The following is an excerpt straight from my journal as Shaaades and I, two run weary North Bounders, trudge through the final Hundred Mile section of the Appalachian Trail before the northern terminus: Mount Katahdin. Follow our hilarious and emotional 6-day trek as we come to grips that our six month journey is finally coming to a close. 

Night Five, September 10th, 6:15pm

I’ve got to come out and tell you something really important: PRAISE AND THANK YOU TO STEELY, BECAUSE NOW ME AND SHAAADES ARE GOING TO LIVE.

I am rejuvenated I am alive this is a beautiful fall day and this beautiful human Steely is going to summit tomorrow because he is a beast so he gave me and Shaaades his extra food which means we are not going to die of hunger I am going to CRUSH MILES and survive this trail!

He and I laughed about how we’d never see each other again. We had this moment in the shelter together to talk about life and plans and how we’ve grown and…that’s it! That’s all we get out here, and that’s all we need.

This afternoon I sat on a ledge looking at Katahdin as Shaaades listened to the Bears game.

Mama K is getting closer and closer. It breaks my heart that the photos show her looking so small. There is a wonder, a deep feeling in my chest every time we get a view of the mountain. At this point it’s completely impossible to communicate. I mean, hell, even Shaaades and I are ignoring it. We don’t talk about it much at all.

Katahdin and Wayne

GO BEARS.

Actually this morning, we did have a moment. We both shared songs that make us feel emotional and blah blah blah. I shared mine, and he responded with “Damn it. You ALMOST got me to cry.” And then he played his, which started a waterfall of emotion and jokes.

After it played, we sort of sat in a bit of silence for a little while. “…I just saw my entire hike flash before my eyes,” I muttered. “GOD DAMN IT.” And with that I became an emotional wreck inside.

It felt so strange knowing that this was the second to last morning that I’ll wake up in my tent.

And then that’s it.

 

So today was another day down.

I’m listening to “Sunday Candy” as the sun sets on Rainbow Lake.

I realized I never feel like I’m giving you enough because I want every moment written down. Every second recorded. I don’t want to forget a single god damned thing about being out here.

Like seeing Coach eating Ramen on a rock, coming up and sitting next to him, and him simply saying, “I’m taking my TIME.” I nodded in agreement. The rock wasn’t incredibly comfortable to sit on. We were in the middle of the woods.

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And I got up to keep moving. And I hiked on through the quiet pine.

Or all the times in the Whites,  like that moment at Ethan pond where Aussie and I chatted idly as the stars came out. We saw the Perseids that night.

Ethan Pond campsite in the Whites

This book I’m writing in is so heavy with memories. 

I miss my friends, I miss the trail and I’m still on it.

And the quiet lake is in front of me.

And my quiet heart rests.

That moment, of summiting Katahdin? That moment that I had talked about with Walkamole and Garbanzo and Jukebox back in Georgia and North Carolina? It’s going to be here in a few days. I’ve been thinking about it for so long. And now it’s here.

Shaaades put it pretty well:

“I can’t believe we’re there. Every day I don’t believe it more. I didn’t know I couldn’t believe something this much.”

I remember all those nights I spent in Richmond drinking and complaining, thoroughly convinced that I would never make it. I felt like my life was over. I felt like the biggest failure in the world.

And now look where I am. Rainbow Lake campsite in the Hundred Mile Wilderness

Miles from Katahdin, officially 2 months out in the woods with no breaks. I have completed all my personal goals and now I’m surpassing them without a second thought.

Finally.

For the first time in my life, I’m finally living it the way I’ve dreamed and more. 

The stars are beautiful tonight.

Sleep tight, fly on. 

x Lil Wayne.

 

Journals from the HMW – Night 5

The following is an excerpt straight from my journal as Shaaades and I, two run weary North Bounders, trudge through the final Hundred Mile section of the Appalachian Trail before the northern terminus: Mount Katahdin. Follow our hilarious and emotional 6-day trek as we come to grips that our six month journey is finally coming to a close. 

Night Five, September 9th, 8:15pm

DAYS ARE PASSING TOO FAST SO IS TIME, god all of a sudden I am leaving camp at Cooper Brook and hiking too fast. My entire world is collapsing in front of me.

Alright. Maybe I’m being a little dramatic.

Reel it in. Here’s what’s shaking me: Piper and Rocket and Kreature and Landlady and so many others are already on their way home. 

I am grappling with the thoughts of losing all my friends. Sure the Trail will still be here, but these people won’t. There probably will never be another moment in time when we’re all ambling around together. All the dear friends I’ve made, the crazy times, everything will become a memory in just 3 days. 

I knew coming out here I’d have a problem with goodbyes, especially to the casual people I hadn’t become close with. Because that’s it, I’ll probably never see them again.

 

Drink it in, time is fleeting. 

All in all, today was really awesome.

The ground was so flat oh my god it was so flat Shaaades and I were CRUISING. And then we got to Antlers Campground on Jo Mary lake and straight chilled. 


Such a beautiful place. We didn’t get to, but I highly recommend camping there. Plus there’s also a two seater privy (needless to say I really wished Katrice and the bomb squad were here so we could hold hands while pooping)

So around 2pm I got up because we still had 12 miles to hike and we had to go we had to crush miles!

“Oh my god don’t get schedie on me now, Lil Wayne,” Shaaades said as he looked up from his fantasy football news. “There’s a Bears game tomorrow.”

Football. Always football. So I ran off because I can’t hike like a beast and I was getting antsy from sitting so long.

Then we realized that Katahdin is getting closer.


Every time we get a peak of her she’s bigger and bigger. I don’t quite know how to explain how this feels. I’m still ignoring the fact that the hike has an expiration date. 

Around 6pm, we had to stop for dinner.

There was nowhere to stealth camp, we were behind schedule, but more importantly we were so hungry. So we parked our butts right in the middle of the trail next to a creek and slowly picked at our meager rations.

Remember how I said I don’t think I have enough food? I don’t have enough food. I’m not going to starve. But that whole eating-half-of-the-calories-that-you-actually-need means I am getting really really REALLY cranky.

After the lovely streamside dinner, we headed forward to find camp before the shelter in the darkening world.

I took off before Shaaades could clean up his meal. And then somewhere in the middle of it all I just lost my mind. It went off on a tangent of missing people, everyone, every person who had summited, everyone who was about to, everyone I hiked with. I got to feeling so sentimental it was almost unbearable.

I took off hiking fast and eventually crashed into this beautiful lake.


It started lightly raining and in the height of all this emotion, all I could do was laugh. 

I wished you could be here with me watching the quiet world dampen and darken. 

So, now all is well.

The trail always saves me in the end. There’s always something redeeming out here just around the corner. I love that. No matter how difficult of a day or time I’m having, the trail or the friends I have redeem me by the end of the day. I am so fortunate out here.

We’re all cozy in our tents and yeah, we’re hungry (actually like really hungry god we do not have enough food) but the night is warm and quiet and beautiful.

Until the next time,

Fly on!

Lil Wayne.

Journals from the HMW – Night 4

The following is an excerpt straight from my journal as Shaaades and I, two run weary North Bounders, trudge through the final Hundred Mile section of the Appalachian Trail before the northern terminus: Mount Katahdin. Follow our hilarious and emotional 6-day trek as we come to grips that our six month journey is finally coming to a close. 

September 8, 8:25pm

I AM A NEW WOMAN!

I have been rejuvenated and brought back to LIFE everything is AMAZING the world is my OYSTER and WE ARE GONNA MAKE IT!

Why?

Because the sun is shining and we saw Katahdin today. 

We made it up White Cap easily – I have Shaaades to thank for that, actually. We talked about Breaking Bad and books and he even humored me as I ranted about how I don’t like the Harry Potter series. So those 5 miles flew by.

And we got to the top and the sun was shining and Shaaades immediately dumped his entire bag out and got to drying everything.


Then we found out Karim Hunt CRUSHED it this week and scored 40 points for every fantasy player who played him KARIM GET THE MONEYYY.

The sight of Shaaades, Blueberry and I atop White Cap was one of happiness, solace, and rebirth. We all felt anew, fresh, dry, content.

And right around the corner, as we walked down, lay the mother of all mountains: Katahdin.


Man this picture doesn’t even do it justice. When we first got up we wondered where she was. “Man I can’t ever tell,” Blueberry said. He’s got a point, because everything looks the same after awhile. But when you turn that corner and see Kathadin, there is no doubt in your mind. “Oh, THAT’S Kathadin!” I said aloud.

For one second the reality of our situation broke through: we’re in the Hundred Mile and we’re almost done. 

But then we flew down the mountain because the terrain is finally better and I feel like we actually have a chance. We’re going to make it.

In the last 3 miles I made the big huge terrible mistake of thinking about food. Have I told you how depleted my food bag is? It doesn’t look good for our hero….I’m really thinking I don’t have enough, so I’m starting to ration out the food, but that means I get really hungry at the end of the day.

So these last 3 miles were absolutely torturous (though they were flat) because I was endlessly envisioning:

  1. Baklava
  2. Pierogis
  3. Chicken and cheese enchiladas
  4. Pasta covered in red sauce
  5. Chicken and apple sausages
  6. Ranchero soup
  7. A Chinese buffet
  8. Yogurt with honey and walnuts

…it got pretty intense. By the time I fell into camp the first thing I did was make a rom bomb because I couldn’t take it any longer.

On another note my back chafing had gotten completely out of hand. Look at this. This explains why I haven’t been able to sleep and have been yelping in pain when I put my pack on.


Well I should go because a gross array of bugs are beginning to settle on the outside of my tent. Some man said there was a chance of rain tonight, and I’m praying that doesn’t happen because it’s already extremely cold and I need to get some sleep. The cold kills me even though I’ve got a 25 degree bag.

Brrrrrr baby let’s get cozy!

Until tomorrow! Sleep tight, my heart aches with excitement and forlorn.

fly on!

Lil Wayne

Journals from the HMW – Night 3

The following is an excerpt straight from my journal as Shaaades and I, two run weary North Bounders, trudge through the final Hundred Mile section of the Appalachian Trail before the northern terminus: Mount Katahdin. Follow our hilarious and emotional 6-day trek as we come to grips that our six month journey is finally coming to a close. 

Night Three, September 7, 2:30pm

NOPE. WE’RE DONE. THAT’S IT. SCREW TODAY. 10 miles is enough.

We got to the shelter and that was it. Seriously. I think the wilderness really does want me dead. Today has just….oh my god.

This morning I wearily tried to convince myself I am not miserable.


I mean, Shaaades woke up in a puddle.
See I’m not kidding, like a LITERAL puddle.


So I thought “ok, I’m still dry…ish, not as wet as Shaaades, i can do this!” Then I started hiking. And it wasn’t really raining, right? But the trail was freaking water.

I wish I had a photo but it basically looked like a water source. Like water was falling off of rocks. There were unavoidable puddles. Within 2 miles I said out loud “ALRIGHT FINE, Trail! Fucking FINE. MY FEET ARE SOAKED. ARE YOU HAPPY”

When I got to Chairback mountain it was just clouds, thick clouds, and of course it started raining when I hit the descent. And the descent. Oh my god, it’s like there was a freaking rock slide and the MATC looked at it and shrugged its shoulders and said “eh alright, this will do.” The trail was almost impossible to follow. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

Eventually, after 4.5 miles of trudging and squeaking and getting unavoidably soaked, I got to the river you have to ford and I didn’t even bother taking my shoes off. I just walked right through it and continued to soak my already drenched feet.

By this point I was done.

The amount of pine needles that stuck to me were enough to make me want to have a fucking conniption.

So when I finally rolled into the shelter and saw Shaaades hanging out (literally, like all of his stuff was hung on the shelter) all we could do was start laughing.

“I fucking LOVE HIKING DONT YOU LIL WAYNE AH THIS IS SO GREAT” and we just continued on shouting. He then separated his stuff into “fucked shit” and “not fucked shit” – but mostly everything was fucked.

Today was just bogus, so we’re going to hang out because WHATEVER. we have time and you know what?

That’s totally fine.

Fly on,

Lil Soggy Wayne

Journals from the HMW – Night 2

The following is an excerpt straight from my journal as Shaaades and I, two run weary North Bounders, trudge through the final Hundred Mile section of the Appalachian Trail before the northern terminus: Mount Katahdin. Follow our hilarious and emotional 6-day trek as we come to grips that our six month journey is finally coming to a close. 

Night Two, September 6, 8:15pm

September 6th, 8:15pm

Good Morning, it’s gonna be a wet one in the Hundred Mile today.

It was drizzling when we finished getting all of our stuff together. Shaaades constantly has a positive attitude, which is amazing in moments like this.

Hiking in the rain isn’t so terrible. It’s dealing with constant wetness for 3+ days that SUCKS. But right now? We’re still dry. We’re feeling good.

It was with little thought and a big smile that I set off into the rain this morning.We crushed the first 5 miles like it was nobody’s business.

By the time I got to Barren Mountain, I was feeling pretty accomplished.

It was a tough enough climb between the chilly constant rain and fucking roots. I cannot explain to you how many exposed roots are out here in the Hundred Mile.

Atop this broken fire tower I stood, cold and alone, arms out in the wind. I called out into the blank wild. Fuck yeah, I made it. 

Where were Shaaades and Blueberry? Somewhere, hopefully. We would all meet up by the end of the day, I was sure of it. So I kept on after a nice snack of Oreos and Nutella.

And then the hike got extremely difficult.

Remember how I said it was raining today and last night? Well that meant there were puddles. Big puddles. I very quickly learned why every SoBo was confused when a NoBo complained about puddles. There are no puddles on the trail as terribly huge and unavoidable as those in the Hundred Mile Wilderness. 

Before long, my already soaked feet had become completely saturated. It finally hit me how dampened my spirits were.

By 5:30pm, I still had 2 miles to hike. I stopped on a rock clearing to gather myself. Everything hurt. I wanted to stop. My brain was telling me I was a failure because it was getting dark and I still had to hike another 45 minutes. Except the world opened up before me, as if to quietly remind me that I was still in a beautiful place, no matter how much it may hurt. I couldn’t stop now. I couldn’t give up. I remembered that I had been through worse and I am still alive.

Most importantly, I knew I couldn’t take this time for granted. As much as I wanted to feel miserable, this was the last time I would be out here. My days were numbered.

So I put on my metal playlist and hiked on so aggressively that I immediately ate shit. Oh c’mon, don’t pretend like you don’t fall all the time. Kudos to you if you’ve got good balance. But this wilderness is ruthless and soaking wet.

I laughed at my muddy self and picked my aching body off the ground. 2 more miles.

I arrived very damp to camp.

Shaaades had to set up his tent – YEAH! Shaaades the Shelter Rat was sleeping in his tent tonight. The shelter was full of visitors and other thru-hikers, so we were condemned to the piney backyard. We’re both really worried the ground will flood, but there’s not much that can be done.

I set up my tent in the slow pattering of rain. The sun set on us. I hastily ate gooey mac and cheese and talked to Shaaades about our game plan for tomorrow.

Then I removed my shoes. Oh HO MY GOD, my friend, I have FRANKENFEET. This is pretty normal for a rainy day. It still makes me laugh, the intensity with which my feet get rubbed raw.

There are only 5 days left.

I have made it so far and now I only have 5 days. That is an incredibly difficult concept to understand. I don’t feel like this is going to end.

Today I thought about when I was a kid I would wonder what people did in the rain when they didn’t have a home to go into at night. Where would someone sleep if not in a house? I would trudge around my backyard, dancing in the rain, trying to find shelter and pretending to sleep.

Now here I am, a poor excuse for an adult, doing just that: surviving in the woods without a home to get dry in at night. I couldn’t help but thinking Little Me would be proud of the person I’ve become. So many things about the woods and the dark scared me throughout childhood. And today I am literally living inside my worst fears.

We plan for 17 miles tomorrow,

so that shouldn’t be a big deal right? Forward, onward!

Fly on,

Lil Wayne

Journals From The Hundred Mile Wilderness – Night One

The following is an excerpt straight from my journal as Shaaades and I, two run weary North Bounders, trudge through the final Hundred Mile section of the Appalachian Trail before the northern terminus: Mount Katahdin. Follow our hilarious and emotional 6-day trek as we come to grips that our six month journey is finally coming to a close. 

The Hundred Mile Wilderness

 

 

Night One: September 5th, 5:45pm

Alright, I’ll admit it: today was a trash bag day.

That is to say, I threw today in the trash bag. That is to say, I couldn’t make it more than 10 miles.

Look, sometimes you get assaulted with a lot of things to deal with, and you simply cannot hike a long day. Today, as I first set foot into the Hundred Mile Wilderness, I had the following things to deal with:

  1. A hundred miles of wilderness, which means no resupply for 6 days, which means my pack is heavy as shit.
  2. It just rained, and it’s supposed to be raining for the next 3 days, so everything is wet and slippery. Happy hurricane season!
  3. I’m a lady, so my body decided that “my time of the month” should come right now.

Welcome to the Hundred Mile, baby. 

Yes, it feels like everything is working against me. But I have Shaaades and Blueberry by my side, and we three are going to take our damn time through this stretch of beauty. We have 6 days to get to Katahdin, where we will meet my dad and Shaaades’ parents.

Thank goodness the three of us are together. In one 10 mile day, we lost ALL of our friends. The Traveling Space Gypsies and Beer for Lunch are one day ahead, Coach and 12pack are one day behind, and Easy Goin, Tarzan, and En Fuego kept on 5 extra miles. We had the shelter to ourselves as the rain pitter pattered slowly throughout the night and the thunder rumbled on in the distance.

I feel stressed and exhausted.

I know I can hike a hundred miles no problem. This is nothing. One week left? I knowthat’s not enough time. I don’t want to stop hiking. But right now I am beaten down. 

Poet from Shaw’s gave us a beautiful send-off speech today. He dropped us 8 weary hikers off at the parking lot at the edge of the Hundred Mile Wilderness. “Well, this is it. Remember, there’s nothing you can’t handle,” he told us with a big smile on his face. “In a few days you’ll be atop White Cap Mountain, the first place you can see Katahdin. They say that’s where the ice around the heart shatters.” He recited a haiku he wrote when he thru-hiked. The whole moment felt profound, but only because of Poet. I couldn’t help but smile because he was so proud of us, as if he had raised each one of us to be the bad ass hikers we are today. He knew what we had gone through. He knew what we were going to go through. And he was genuinely so excited for us.

9 miles later I was thigh-deep in a slippery, strong river.

I’m going to pretend like everything is normal.

I’m still out here with my friends, things can still go wrong, hiking still hurts. I am not miserable, I am just struggling.

 

Tonight, Shaaades and I are shelter rats. We are talking back and forth about our pasts and listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers. And slowly, quietly, I fade off into a deep, deep sleep.

Fly on, 

Lil Wayne

Ps: it should also be noted that I miss you. I’m not gonna name drop you, because I know you’d hate that, but it’s been about a week now since we parted I think and as much as you’d hate to hear it, I miss the little things about you, like the way you’d shout from mountaintops or clap three times at funny things, and I miss seeing you at the end of a hard day (or any day, really). I know we’ll all be fine and we’ll all be off into the real world, but I don’t want the next thing. But I suppose I’ll just see ya when I see ya.