It is the last night in my apartment. I’ve been in a sleeping bag for two nights now, which I should get used to: I leave for the Appalachian Trail in 11 days. It’s always a bit odd for me to leave a place. I always have to say “goodbye” to the space I’ve called my own for months on end – right before the moving truck pulls out, or my parents’ car, or the boyfriend with the UHaul. I take a few moments just for me, thank the space for hosting me so well, and shut the door.

This time, I’m shutting the door on something much more major. My life is about to change in a very real way, and in ways I can’t even imagine yet. I’m going “off the grid” – or, as off the grid as one can be in our age of cell phones and iPads and data plans. According to my insurance, it would be easier for me to go abroad than to stay in the country while I hike. I can’t get any prescriptions in advance – no way no how – though I explained to them at least three times I would  be without access to a pharmacy for 6 months. Someone had even told me they could do 3 months, but never entered it into the system. I pleaded, the pharmacist pleaded: no exceptions. This makes things a bit more interesting.

Today was my last day in the office, too. I take a leave of absence for the next 7 months. It was very weird. I made my goodbye rounds after a lunch out. It reminded me a little bit of leaving camp: I know I’ll be back, but I work with some really great people, and I’ll miss them. There was not much left to say, really. It’s been said, variously, at different times and places.

“Good luck, have fun, be safe.”

“Yes, I will.”

On to my big adventure.

With that comes the leave of absence from this blog, too. I’m already trying to keep up with 2 other Appalachian Trail (AT)-related blogs. And besides, all of life’s tomatoes for the next several months will hit me while I’m on the Trail.

My main blog while I’m hiking is here.

I’m also contributing to Appalachian Trials.

Au revoir. I leave you with this quote:

It starts as an uneasy sleep, a deep restlessness. That’s how it began for me. Perhaps for you, too.

Underneath the slick, secure, same surfaces of daily life, “things” begin to stir. Soft whispers are heard, faintly, in the heart; a restlessness moves in the solar plexus. These stirrings, easy to ignore at first, remain as tenderly persistent as a plant pushing through asphalt. The restlessness seems like the enemy within, threatening to blow up the status quo.

And, of course, it will. That’s the news I want to convey.

But it is no enemy. It is, in fact, the very best friend you have.

– The Ordinary Adventurer, by Jan Leitschuh.

This breakup has me thrown
2 weeks? 3?
It feels like an eternity.
It’s hitting me all over
unexpectedly.
Tears have mostly dried,
and now I’m only yearning
wondering
if I’ll ever get over you.

I know, I know:
Time heals all wounds,
but what can I do
when the only one I want
is you?
People ask me why
and I answer,
“It was mutual,” twisting.
Because I’ve lost it
Because we could fix it
if things were different
if we weren’t long-distance
Because I don’t know anymore
Because all I want
is you
is you
is you
is you

This weekend was wonderful. With three days all ours, we piled into cars and drove to West Virginia after work Friday, taking in a deep sunset and wide moonrise. Take me home, country roads, through the winding mountain pass.

 

A cacophony of laughter and noises and meeting and re-meeting and snacking was heard through the late evening, in between picking rooms and beds and who would ride with whom and what time to leave in the morning. In George “Piney” Williams’ rail house, I chose my own room, accessible only through another person’s room. With a mild throwback to college days, this worked out well, with careful knocks and coordination. Besides, all time was spent out on the mountains!
So, diary-style, here’s what I got into:

Saturday: Skiiing on Snowshoe Mountain

Today was awesome. It snowed all day, just powder, all day. The best conditions on the east coast I can remember for a long time. Fresh snow – 24 inches on the mountain in the previous 48 hours (or was it 24?). I haven’t experienced it many times, and certainly never expected it anywhere within driving distance of Washington, DC. Four hours, though, is quite a hike. Still, for a 3-day weekend, it’s pretty solid. What a day. What a ski day! Few things feel as nice as powder under your skis, especially when you don’t expect it. With the snow, though, came the cold. It dropped and dropped fast. It was also incredibly windy, to the point of nearly knocking me over, nevermind being able to see. But I borrowed extra gloves and stuck toe warmers in my boots, and with a stop for lunch and again in the afternoon, I was okay. We covered a lot of the mountain in the morning, catching lots of blues and some greens. After lunch, we hopped a shuttle to the other, smaller mountain. It’s the only one open for night skiing, so is quieter than the main mountain during the day. I actually enjoyed the blues there better. Plus, fewer people, more powder. Pretty great. Also at the bottom is a tiny food place with what my ski partner called “boozy hot chocolates,” so of course I had to get one. Hot chocolate + peppermint schnapps = warm all over. Mmmm. We finished off with one more small run before heading back. Truly delightful ski day!

The only time I dared take my gloves off to take a picture, and only to showcase some powder.

The only time I dared take my gloves off to take a picture, and only to showcase some powder.

It took us awhile to get everyone together and get back in the cars, but we did, and then I quickly snagged a shower (as speedy as possible as we weren’t entirely sure how much hot water there would be). That felt nice. I changed into comfy sweatpants and went downstairs to help with dinner: fajitas.

 

Then Cards Against Humanity, which was madness and towards the end included the character “Rando” whose primary job it was to put in random cards and sweep us all 😉

Sunday: Snowshoeing in Monongahela National Forest

Today was beautiful. Several of us slept in and got together for a delicious breakfast at the other cabin: Belgian waffles, bacon, sausage, eggs with cheese, strawberries. Tea with honey. Really quite something. Then some people went back to the mountain, and 4 of us opted for a slower day, and got packed up for some snowshoeing. I rented a pair (and poles, which I don’t recommend), and we set off for what would become a much steeper hike than we’d planned on, but had a lot of fun all the same. Shedding layers, then adding them. I really enjoy snowshoeing, and it was so pretty out. Quiet. It was neat to walk along tamped down paths right next to places you knew hadn’t been touched by humans, at least that day. We got to the top of the hill where a picnic table was and paused to eat a little food (and put on all the layers we’d dropped on the way up). There were some beautiful vistas, but I now understand the motivational power of the cold: no way was I taking off both pairs of gloves, even on one hand, to take a picture with my phone, and my camera was buried in my pack. I am guessing, then, that the beginning of my Appalachian Trail will not have much in the way of pictures. Especially given how wacky this winter has been. Let’s hope I’m not snowshoeing in March! I am also reconsidering my gloves – I’ve borrowed or added on additional gloves both skiing and snowshoeing.
We probably got back around 3, which was nice. Changed into warm, dry clothes and made hot chocolate and nachos. Board games and reading and munching until dinner!

 

So after dinner, we played a game called “Time’s Up.” It was absolutely hilarious. With teams of two, it’s played in three rounds, something like a Charades/Taboo mix. With a twist: your partner is the only one who can guess. It’s played with the same cards through all three rounds, so you get to know – maybe – all the answers.
Round 1: Taboo with gestures (no saying any words in the answer); unlimited guesses
Round 2: One word, unlimited gestures; 1 guess
Round 3: No words, one gesture; 1 guess
Madness, I tell you! The best kind.

 

Monday was a calm and nice drive back, after a truly glorious weekend.

– 1 –

It would be easier to be angry
but I’m not
It would also be easier to eat
but I’m not
so I’m
sick
hungry
cold.
And this is the cycle
at least for awhile

– 2 –

You know what your problem is?
I said
laughing
so I wouldn’t cry
He looked at me
a pained look on his face.
You’re too good
I said.
I barely got a smile
before he threw it back at me
You’re the better one
he said.
So we sat there
complimenting each other
in the middle
of our breakup

– 3 –

In mind over matter
is matter heart?
Because I think matter
Brainmatter
Grey.
There is the mind
and Things That Matter
and Heart
where is Heart?

– 4 –

The person I would vent to
The person I would laugh with
I would send that funny link to
I would explain my thoughts to

We will heal
but for now
I’ve lost
my best friend

Due to things
we could probably fix
if circumstances were
different.

– 5 –

My friend said
To put the wallowing on steroids
And heal before my hike

Well.

I’m writing bad poetry

So.

But also
I got compliments on my prose
regarding the breakup –
Prose –
Not Poetry.
Bad, Poetry.
Down.

 

[Edit: Last night can now probably be known as “sobbing night”]. In honor:

I jump
each time there’s a new text
anytime my inbox count
adds a number
Hoping it will be you
And cringing if it is
Because I am not ready
Except, I am:
This is always the worst part
We shouldn’t talk
but I want to
I want to

I want to tell you about my day
I want to send you silly pictures
I want to throw my arms around you
and never let go.

But I can’t.

We broke up. I’d say it was fairly mutual, though he brought  it up (and I don’t think I would have). I get upset whenever I have to tell people (and so I’ve not told that many). Each time, I harp on it being “better, and worse.” Of the now 3 breakups I’ve had, it was the best. And it was also more painful. We’re both very fond of each other, we both think the other is a great, capable person. We like spending time together. And we were both very sorry it couldn’t work out. We are, for now, incompatible. I could argue it was long distance, I could argue it was shit timing: I’m leaving for the Appalachian Trail soon (and I’m likely to change), he’s in that post-college what’s-next phase. But really, for now, we just don’t work.

I’ve also never dated anyone I was friends with before, and still hoped to be friends with after. He brightens a room by being in it, and I really was happy most of the time. So it was better, and worse. It was better when I got sick – as I do after breakups – and he held my hair and brought me a cup of water, and worse because it was a bit humiliating. When I told him that, he looked surprised. I’ve been through more breakups, and they were much worse. “We’re friends,” he said. “Why wouldn’t I?” I guess there’s not actually a good response to that. It was better when he made breakfast, like he usually does, like things were…and it was worse because it was another reminder. Both of us not being together, and of him being so sweet. God, he was so sweet. With what felt like very little regard for his own feelings, he was all about making sure I was comfortable. He offered to drive the 10 hours home that night, though it was nearing midnight. Before this happened, we’d actually had a very fun weekend. Outdoors film festival, getting him into a TV show I like, a roller derby, a sideshow with all kinds of freakish acts, an improv show.

After breakfast, we talked, barely, haltingly. Reminiscent of the night before – those awkward long pauses when no one knows what to say but sometimes saying something is better than not, because what other chance do you have? And when the things that come out aren’t “you should have” and “well why didn’t you,” but “You’re a really good, capable person” and “I’m so sorry we couldn’t work,” you know it’s a special one. This makes it better, and worse.

This post is becoming hard to write, so I’ll close here. With time, I hope we can be friends. It’s just a big heartache right now, knowing how great he is, how highly we regard each other, and knowing we just aren’t working.