Also, sometimes you're just not proud of that shelter log entry you left in which you called out "tour hiker" Loud Mouth for being an arrogant, insufferable ass while cheerfully inviting everyone on the trail to punch him in the face. Yes, the less said about that the better.
With that in mind, here's an excerpt from my upcoming memoirs, Memoirs of an Adventure II: Memoirs Harder:
Chapter 30: I Am Become Death, The Destroyer Of Carry-On LuggageWow. Exciting/depressing stuff! Anyway, now that I've successfully distracted you from my unfortunate history of raging misanthropy, let's get back to the narrative at hand.
Imagine a post-Apocalyptic landscape. Or the streets of New Orleans after Mardis Gras. Pretty similar concepts.
No people. Just the burnt-out hulks of old strip malls and fast-food joints, trash strewn about, beads collecting in the gutter.
Now imagine floating along amongst the clouds—either as some disembodied spirit, or perhaps as a passenger on Delta Flight 2006 to LaGuardia—alone with your thoughts, your melancholy remembrances of a life gone past too quickly.
Fleeting memories flicker before your eyes in an endless, inexorable stream, like so much bilious vomit forcibly expurgated into a curbside garbage bin, leaving behind naught but the bitter aftertaste of regret and Bud Light Lime.
Imagine all the faces of all the friends you've made and lost, all the opportunities you've seized and forsaken, the sum total of all your choices in life. Do you like what you see?
Or are you apathetic, exhausted, like you're about to slip into a debilitating coma of indifference that you would otherwise have found excruciatingly inconvenient if you weren't already dead...
When I first started this grand adventure, one of my intentions was always to hike a little ways with my big sister. She herself had once harbored the desire to thru-hike, so it only made sense for me to try to involve her as much as possible. Initially, we had planned to hike together for at least a couple of months. She was leaving one job, and had, ostensibly, about three months free before starting another. The idea was that she would come down and meet me, wherever I was, whenever that was, and that would be that.
Plans change, however, and a couple months turned into a couple weeks, which then turned into just about ten days at the end of the summer. Down also became up; I had come so far so quickly that she would now need a ride out to meet me. I was further away from home than she was.
That said, finally knowing that she was meeting me at this road at such-and-such a time had a terrible effect on my ambitions. I knew I only had to do 8 or 9 miles a day in order to make our prearranged rendezvous. Which, on the outside, really doesn't seem like that much of a problem. Except Buckeye, Fredo and I had been hiking fifteen to twenty miles a day, easy. Doing just eight or nine was so... boring.
And with that in mind, here's another interlude, this time an excerpt from Wolfgang Amadeus Derkadur's A Taste of Sadness:
A backyard party. It’s getting late. Mellow music plays. Most of the revelers have dispersed for the night, splintering into smaller groups or going their separate ways. Yet some stalwart friends remain, sitting around a roaring fire spitting sizzling amber embers into the onyx sky.After a scant 8.9 miles, Fredo, Buckeye and myself settled in at the Poplar Ridge Lean-to for the night. Tomorrow, we had an ambitious 13.1 miles planned, to the South Branch of the Carabassett River, where my sister would be waiting.
A happy drunk, she lays languidly across his lap, cradling a half-forgotten beer. She throws her head back in a giant, joyful laugh, her hair tickling his nose. He dares not move, nor join her conversation, lest he disturb their repose.
She rests her head on his shoulder. He is furniture.
Still, he thrills—secretly, silently—at every sensation: her quiet breaths, her warmth, the perfume of her shampoo, the quiver of her body as she laughs…
As if sensing his gaze, she glances up at him, some implacable yearning in her eyes. A tacit question lingers between them, hanging heavy like the smell of woodsmoke and the encroaching darkness. They both know the answer, can feel it in the sudden thudding of their hearts, but can’t seem to put into words...