Today I jumped off the White River Bridge, and yogi’d a dinner at Dartmouth from a student there. Yes, that Dartmouth. The student was an outdoor club member, the school’s being among the oldest in the United States. As for the bridge, and why I jumped, you need only to brush up on your Sir Edmund Hillary. Why?
“Because it’s there!”
As I sit down to write this, in a bed at a parishioner’s home in Norwich, VT; I reflect on two points. The first being how in the hell I found so much time to write during my last hike. Then, even given the time, how do I compress so much into a tiny narrative? It’s a daunting task. Nevertheless, too much content is a blessing. I prefer a deep well to a dry one, and my days have been anything but parched.
That last part works figuratively, even if not literally true. In this heat and humidity, I’ve found myself quite parched in the north Vermont hills. What water does flow here is deep, and clear. The people of Vermont are the same.
I want to write about my friend Sage, but no single post would suffice to describe him. We united in our love of Abby and Kerouac, kept the conversation alive in musical taste, and stopped to laugh when we both pulled Melanzana Hoodies from our backpacks. Sage is my homie, my brother, and an instantly trusted friend.
When his roommate picked him up in Rutland, to take him to a wedding, we both became adamant that a picture be taken of us. People on the trail are transient, but I hope this one sticks. Besides, who else can I sit in a stream eating a grinder with, or on the side of a Walmart downing pomegranate kombucha? Real life dharma bums. We even meditate together.
Fuck I miss Jelly. In a moment of weakness, I asked her if I could bus up to Hanover and shuttle up to hike with her to the end of Maine. She saw this for what it was, and talked me out of it so thoroughly, openly, and honestly. In my deepest heart of hearts I knew it was a terrible idea to begin with. This weak man needed a strong woman to articulate back to him exactly why the idea felt so off. I’m grateful for the transparency between us, but clarity with a strong woman is best accessed as a strong man. She makes me want to be that man.
I listened to Damian Marley’s “Speak Life” tonight. A song Molly and I would often sing and dance to slowly in our kitchen on Merritt St. It made me appreciate that relationship for what it was. I feel myself applying the lessons from that time these days. I have so much more clarity than I had then. What a blessing to find intermittent lovers, and validate a little growth along the way. I’ve been reading some Pete Holmes lately, and he makes that point well.
There’s a lover I’d like to be anything but intermittent with, and the last post was password protected for the sake of her privacy. Maybe with another fifteen hundred miles under my belt, I’ll be closer to the type of man I wish to pursue her as.
An odd thing out here, is that I am as confident in women’s shorts and pink gaiters as many men are in business suits. Walking around the Dartmouth campus in my Marshall’s 3″ inseams and a polyester button down, I felt sexy as fuck. I have this theory about increased testosterone in long distance hikers –thinning waistline, large muscle groups in high use, but I wonder. When I dress like hiker trash I am being my most myself. My weird, goofy, talking to all the ladies self. Because I’m a hiker I am automatically a total badass in my mind. People respond to this most wonderfully.
There’s so much sexual guilt and shame bubbling around in my brain it’s a little startling at times. Yeah guys, “me too” and all that. I’ve never really written about that before. It’s one of the many things I am working through out here.
Where the hell did this post even come from? So much for an AT journal! Seriously though, between No More Mr. Nice Guy and Comedy Sex God, I feel like I am getting a legitimate handle on some of the more fucked up parts of my childhood. Introspection is the source of inner peace and happiness, but no one likes digging ditches. Though, I implore you friends. When you’re ready, grab a fucking shovel!