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.

It didn’t occur to me until pretty late in the week that normal people take Labor Day off, even go somewhere. So I decided to see if I could work a schedule out to head up to my parents’ – and now boyfriend’s- town for the weekend. It involved one overnight 10-hour train ride, but I got there care of a pickup from Z. The train ride wasn’t so bad – there was even a span of 2+ hours I could use both seats and sleep rather absurdly curled up. But let’s face it, I was a bit of a zombie during the first day. I got home and pretty quickly a tailor arrived to figure out and then take my bridesmaid dress for hemming. It was a convoluted process but he was great, and then asked when I was leaving the area. When I told him a day and a half later, his eyes lit up: he took it as a personal challenge. My parents and I then raced off to the Farmer’s Market, which was beautiful as always. I’m almost never home when it’s still going, so it was neat to see everything. I even found a cute new skirt!

Later I went to Z’s to catch up on some episodes of Orange is the New Black, which we started together so must finish together. I think we only have a few left now! I also fell fast asleep and he let me nap until about dinnertime. I was still a zombie, possibly worse after the nap. But it did feel great. I rushed to shower off the overnight-train-it’s-been-too-long-since-the-last-clean and then the four of us went out for dinner at a place I love and requested. That was delicious as expected, and we followed it up with gelato – mm-mm!

The next day we woke up and went up to my parents’ for Belgian waffles and watermelon before heading out to browse through EMS. I picked up some small details for my hike, and then we went mini-golfing. I really wished I’d found my shorts at home before then – hot and humid! But still a fun time, with random holes (Funspot is always tops) and sometimes pretty things:

Before heading home, we stopped off at a grocery store that’s going out of business (actually, as of this writing, I think it’s gone). It was very strange to see it so empty.

Nothing! And they’d consolidated the few remaining items to the center of the store, resulting in this:

And this:

Strange but fun outing. When I got home, I found my shorts and helped my mom make yummy chocolate chip cookies for the BBQ/get-together with Z’s family. We fed a few to some thru-hikers who stopped by, and I tried to gather more information from them. Both were glad I was going to try it, saying it was an incredible experience. One, Rabbit, cautioned me to take 8-mile days for the first week rather than trying to power ahead (thus injuring myself). Your joints need time to adjust to the intensive walking.

The BBQ wound up being a celebration party and involved many more people than we’d thought! Thankfully we weren’t the only ones assigned to dessert, and there is always plenty of food there. We are lucky. We all oohed and ahhed over Z’s photos of my brother’s wedding, for the thousandth time. They are great. After, we headed up to my house for one last night of VT sleep. One more Orange is the New Black, and sleep. The morning, as usual with me, was a runaround of pack-shower-pack-organize-pack-ahhhhh-breakfast-pack-gogogo. Brunch down at Z’s was great and they packed me lunch and snacks because they are the greatest (both families). And: the tailor finished my dress, so it’s sitting in my suitcase with me now. Wow.

It was nice being home.

All kinds of things are coming together these days. I’m starting to feel more settled, somehow. Maybe from moving, maybe from other things.

The major coming together of the month was my brother’s wedding! I realized I never wrote about that. Everything about it was beautiful and perfect. I’ve never seen two people so much in love. Maybe I’ve just never been in a wedding, so didn’t get to see everything up front, but wow. These two. Add to that a beach in Hawaii, and you’re golden. It was stunning.

The first day became a beach day, which was lovely. Spread out, chill out, read, nap, check out the water and fish. And with nearly all my favorite people. My other brother and his family (super cool sister-in-law, two precious nieces), parents, boyfriend and his family, my new sister-in-law, aunt, cousin…

There were chill days, adventure days around the island, rehearsals and dinners, volcanoes, the wedding itself. Getting ready. I’m so excited to see pictures! There were some precious moments: getting “Bridesmaid” shirts from the bride, figuring out hair and makeup, my dad coming in and out – I think the photographer got one of both him and the bride fixing hair in the mirror -, the first look at her in her dress, helping her get her train into the pickup truck she drove to the wedding (oh man. Amazing). Watching her watch my brother, my brother sitting faced away from her at the front. Distracting her when she kept saying, “I look at [him] and I’m gonna start crying.” For goodness, sake, I almost started crying then! Walking in with my other brother, the ring they both bought me for my 18th on my hand. Listening to them say their vows, watching them just be so, so in love. The delicious food, the hilarity of the dancing.

Pololū Valley

lava

lava

So that trip was amazing. In every way. Took a day to run around practically the whole island, then slowed down to one of the most delicious meals out I’ve ever had, with this guy who continues to make me happy.

Things are coming together.

Today, for example. I was finally able to go to a yoga class this evening, for the first time since realizing there were classes my company would pay for through a gym membership. I’ve been wanting to go for a month or more. Tonight managed to open up enough that I went. I’m pretty intimidated by gyms, so it was nice to go in, be pointed in the right direction, and join others who were learning – getting direction for a workout. That’s the other thing about yoga. It’s hard, but it doesn’t quite feel like working out. And it’s a nice balance of workout and meditation for me, my own getaway from the madness. It was a pretty small class tonight, and for the most part I didn’t feel judged. Though there was that time I was stretching the opposite side as everyone else…

Then there is the continuous, seemingly-in-vain attempt at getting into a morning routine that I like. Ideally, it includes meditation, eating breakfast, writing my novel, showering, and making some try to look nice rather than running out the door. ONE of those things might start to happen, which might spur on the others. Baby steps. There is a local writing group, and some members also either write early or would like to. So it’s looking like some of us are going to create a kind of phone/e-mail tree to wake the others up when they want. If we all want to get up around 6am, then one has to and then calls the others. Maybe they call three times every five minutes and then stop. Or something. But that could be really awesome.

I also recently discovered and then tried out a super fast breakfast-making operation. You can bake eggs into hard-boiled-ness. Requires a muffin tin and eggs. Sunday night I bake-boiled a dozen eggs at once, leaving me an easy breakfast of 2 eggs each morning. If you keep the shells on, they’ll last about a week. Take them off, and it’s 2 days. Ready? Pre-heat oven to 325F (350 if your oven runs a touch cool), put one egg per muffin space (this prevents them from moving around too much), and then bake for 25-30 minutes. So far, I’ve found the yokes tend towards one side when you’re done, and there are some pinprick brown dots when you peel them. Neither is reason for concern. Between that and the occasional Instant Breakfast (provided I both have milk and it’s not gone bad), I might start eating breakfasts. The bagel place by work will still tempt me on occasion, I’m sure, but I’m trying to get away from the intake of carbs in the morning. The Internet* says it’s not good for your day energy. So there. So…there…toasted bagel with cream cheese. :-/

* Side note, my morning goals have been set for a long time before I saw an article like that. I already know TM, or transcendental meditation and love it. Etc. Carry on.

Writing, breakfast, meditation is sure to follow. As long as I don’t go back to sleep. I’ve gotta finish this novel before I leave for my hike, and time is decreasing rather more rapidly than I’d prefer!  That, and maybe weekly yoga, and then maybe weekly writing group (evening). Ohmygosh. Keep breathing. But that would be really great. This could be really great.

<waves>

So…hey guys. I’ve missed you! Probably. There’s been a lot going on; I’ve been out of the blogosphere for a little bit now. That tends to be how my summers are. If I’m not working, I’m sleeping. Or doing – nothing.

But things are still happening: I started dating someone I’ve known for close to a decade, and it’s going great. I’m moving in a few weeks, and have confirmed a moving company for it. I finally made a dermatologist appointment for those pesky moles. Work had a super shitty week, and a celebration.

I think I’ve mentioned this, but the addition of the boy has only improved it: I’m happy. I’m self-happy, I feel content. Not to say I don’t have awful days every now and then (or, several consecutive days of them), but I feel…free. Things aren’t so bad. Some of that was familiar, a few months back. There is this element to single life that is freeing, that boosts confidence. I’m well aware this seems backwards (the confidence bit); possible evidence I haven’t found the right guy? Anyway, this new-old boy is great. It just feels easy. Not like other ones – I mean, yes, of course there will be that honeymoon perfect period, but this is more natural, even. Maybe more adult? I don’t know. We’re dancing at the edges, seeing where it’ll go. We’re independent, and I think it’s really important to both of us that we remain that way, but we can do that together. He makes me laugh, all the time. He’s ridiculous and serious and creative and musical, and listens, and talks. We find more and more in common. It’ll be nice to continue learning more about each other. In some ways it’s strange – I feel like I know him since we’ve known each other for so long, but we don’t really know each other. Not beyond dinner parties and news from parents when the other’s away – our families are best friends up in Vermont, that’s how we know each other.

I shall leave you with a cryptogram. I’ve gotten back into those to work my brain, and managed to break this one easily enough. Basically: this is a quote by a famous person. Each letter has been replaced by another letter, and one equals another, always (e.g., if J=R, J will = R every time). Think about the English language, trends, and what it can and can’t do. Give it a whirl and post your guesses in the comments!

QFL  HCVPS  PX  V  ANSWLCEZK  NCJVS;  PQ  XQVCQX  QFL  BPSZQL  RNZ  JLQ  ZT  PS  QFL  BNCSPSJ  VSW  WNLX  SNQ  XQNT  ZSQPK  RNZ  JLQ  QN  QFL  NEEPGL.  –  CNHLCQ  ECNXQ

What a perfectly lovely weekend. Friday was a late working night, but a bunch of coworkers and I all went out for sushi for dinner. It was a lot of fun. I constantly find myself lucky to be there (long hours and all).

Country: Tim McGraw

I was also semi-spontaneosuly invited to go catch Tim McGraw Saturday night with some friends. We piled in and got there early for some tailgating. Veggies, hummus, chips, guacamole, cherries, cheese, pepperoni, drinks. I’ve been to a few country concerts, but haven’t tailgated at one until now, and let me tell you, the people-watching is fantastic. Country brings the dirty, the stunning, the shirtless (or, near shirtless, both sexes), the jeans, the intense American pride (people practically dressed in flags, bandanas, you name it, it’s got stars and stripes), the sundresses, the popped collars.

Also apparently top hats.

top hat

This guy was fun to watch throughout. He was having a great time.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Perfect for our lawn seats.

sunset

The concert itself started a little slow, to me, but got going quickly enough. It wasn’t a rock-out (to be fair, the last one I went to was Keith Urban), but it was a fun, sing-a-long time. It was nice to sit there and enjoy it, take the music in, the people, the views. He sang “Live Like You Were Dying” towards the end, which was great. Can’t go without the classic. He hardly even needed to sing; everyone has had those words memorized for years.

We did a small post-concert tailgate while waiting for the cars to clean up a little. They weren’t moving; we were sitting eating and drinking. I think we got some jealous dirty looks from some of the drivers. When we did decide to get going, it was easy.

Camp: Nokomis DC Reunion

I am a summer camp kid. Starting at age 8, I started going to a sleepaway camp on an island in New Hampshire, called Camp Nokomis (no-Koh-miss). I continued there, became an Aide (first year Counselor in Training, or CIT), CIT, and then staff member. It is an incredible place, and taught me so much, instilling values I carry with me today. There is a bond between camp people and particularly your-own-camp people, that is unlike anything else. So through this, one alumna hosted a DC reunion for all the Nokomis gals. It was so fun, meeting new alumna, finding connections – you were my counselor in 12! – and making new ones.

noko1

We looked through old camp calendars, photo albums, played camp-themed charades, and talked about what had changed – or not – through the collective time we were there.

noko2

There is no way to fully describe Camp to a non-camp person. It’s a beautiful thing, and made for a great way to spend part of my day. One of many camp songs:

“You can tell a girl from Camp Nokomis,

you can tell her by her walk (wiggle wiggle).

You can tell a girl from Camp Nokomis,

you can tell her by her talk (giggle giggle).

You can tell a girl from Camp Nokomis by her sportsmanship and such (bang bang).

You can tell a girl from Camp Nokomis,

but you cannot tell her much! (how true)”

I almost lost a cousin today. Some people did. A brother, a sister, a wife, a best friend, a son. Or are with them, grieving over the place where a limb used to be. Minutes felt like hours as I waited to hear back from her, checked in with other friends and family in Boston or running today. I can’t recall feeling more helpless or scared in years. More. I was sick, I was stressed, worried, trying not to cry in the middle of the conference room. Thankfully I was alone in there for some of the time. I wanted news. Then pictures started getting picked up by the media. I had to stop. Even after I found out my cousin and about everyone I know in Boston was okay. I’m still incredibly rattled. When I called her I got only voicemail and tried really hard to keep calm. It was chaos, she was letting others know she was okay. But how can you know? My heart goes out to all the runners, friends, and family members of the victims. So many people, from all around the world, were hurt or are grieving today. I grieve with you. Love.

I took some time to start getting a handle on life on the trail. My primary reference is the Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers’ Companion for 2013, a publication by the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA). Even in that one, there is a warning about possible post office closures between publication and the hike. That’s another effect of the US Post Office’s previous issues as well as new ones with budget cuts – one I hadn’t thought of a lot until now. Many hikers rely on maildrops and send themselves food or other equipment a few towns up, and pick them up at the post office. As I’m reading, there are also many wonderful people and businesses who offer to do the same, but it is something to keep in mind as the date gets closer.

Getting a Handle on the Book

AT Thru-Hikers' CompanionSomehow, ALDHA has managed to condense a national trail that’s 2,184 miles long into less than 280 pages. It’s great in that they’ve done their best to get you what you need without adding unnecessary burden to your pack. That means a lot of abbreviations and quick descriptions. I finally folded down the corner of the page that defines these acronyms until I memorize them. Capitalization can change a meaning, too: m is miles and M is meals/restaurants. Some just throw me, still, for no good reason: R is road crossing. G is groceries. w is water; nw is no water. There were notations next to only the shelters that confused me for a good long while, too. Something about miles? But then there were N and S, neither of which were defined by my handy list (which I’ve now boxed up in pen). I went back over the notes, the write-ups of how the sections were designed. Ah ha! miles to the next shelter. Northbound or Southbound (commonly referred to as NOBO and SOBO). I’ve still got some work to do but I’m getting a handle on the book, finally.

Estimating What You Are and Will Be Capable Of

I dug into the specific Trail features of the states, figuring out how far certain things are from each other, what I could do this day, or that. If I do 8 miles that day, can I push 11 the next? Or should I give myself more time to get used to hiking? What about at day 7? Wait, have I stopped in a town yet to resupply? Do they have fuel, food, a campsite? Should I splurge on a lodge (hotel), or find a campsite? What are my options? I call this my planning-without-planning. I’m not trying to set anything in stone now. I would like to get through the Trail, in the book, like this, calling shots and figuring out how long my days will be. There is a lot to consider. From some of the books, journals, and blogs I’ve been reading, I know sometimes rides back to a trailhead from town can come later than you might want (10am instead of 7am). So that means I should have a plan for fewer miles the day after a town – maybe. At least a backup shelter or campsite if the sun’s setting already and I’d like to eat dinner and sleep. This is how it will be, all of it. I can set nothing in stone. There’s an appeal and a fear in that. I cannot give an end date, and possibly not an end month until I’m well into the trail, and then I may have a better idea of the month. I’m curious to see what my first estimation is – that’s part of why I’d like to run through the book, state by state, and estimate each day: 10m, 15m, 17m. But the tricky part is knowing that somewhere along the trail, I’ll get what I call my “hiking legs” and 20 miles won’t be an impossibility like it is for me today, like it will be for me on day one. I have no way of guessing this. I can have a better idea of what I’m capable of after this summer, which will hopefully involve lots of hiking and camping.

And last, a shout-out

First, to my family for being so awesomely supportive of me. One member in particular has been really great, sending lots of advice (even books!) and ideas, and always support. To my friends, some of whom took it nonchalantly (“Why is this even a question? You’re going.”), some of whom took it kind of stunned (“What? The whole thing? You’re just gonna…go?”), but all of whom have been great (at least, the ones who have replied!). And to my company for proving again to be a great employer. The days I get frustrated get overpowered by the days I feel glad to be there. Being allowed to do this with high likelihood of returning to work (income) when I’m done is rare, I think. That I don’t have to quit and then plead to come back. There’s part of me that knows I probably would have gone anyway, but part of me really wonders. I don’t have to wonder now, though. Everyone took it so well, and I am incredibly grateful.

Adventure awaits.