Spoiler Alert: The answer is me!
It’s been hot and lazy here lately. My kid has left to spend the summer with his dad and the annual summertime kidless blues have started. Got a nice break from my funk on Father’s Day. Went to the cemetery to pay my respects and then went to see the in-laws. I’m glad we went because I actually like them and because we got to see one of their cats for the last time. He was a nice cat and he was something like 18 years old! Rest in peace, Blue. It made me wonder how much longer I have with my Malcolm. He’s only six but he has severe heart and lung disease. He’s stable on meds now but we just don’t know. I don’t know if he’ll be around when I leave next year or if he’ll be around when I get back. I guess it’s just one of those things we’ll deal with when the time comes. He is my very best friend. Seriously.
My only piece of trail related news is that I registered for the Gathering put on by the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA) in October. From what I understand they have some awesome presentations by experienced hikers and I can use all the help I can get. They even do some trail maintenance afterward so I may get to take my very first steps on the AT. I’m ecstatic … and slightly terrified. One of my reasons for wanting to do this thru-hike is the fact that I’ve never been on my own before. I’ve always lived with someone. I’ve never taken a trip like this on my own before either. I won’t know anybody and the idea of that pretty much makes me want to throw up. I’m not afraid of the plane ride by myself. I’ve done that before. Renting a car and trying to find this place by myself is scary, though. Then being surrounded by strangers who probably all know more than I do is even worse. I don’t do well in large groups either. I’ve been told I’m “abrasive” … that’s a nice way of saying “bitchy” … in case you were wondering. I’m really not though. It’s just the anxiety. Swear.
I used to be afraid to drive. I was t-boned in a kinda bad accident that completely totaled my car. It wasn’t my fault and I didn’t see it coming. There was nothing I could do to even try to stop it. The most frightening part was the loss of control. Every time I drove after that I would flinch at the smallest things. I thought everyone was going to hit me. It was like no matter how awesome of a driver I might be IT DOESN’T MATTER. There are things you can’t control, like moronic guys who don’t look before they drive their car directly into your passenger side door while you’re going 50 miles an hour. I spent about a year having panic attacks in the car and then I got a job at the medical examiner’s office. A good percentage of my job was driving BUT I got to drive a beast of a van with a fun little light bar on top. I’m not scared to drive anymore. Once you’ve driven the wrong way down the freeway or driven through a potentially zombie infested abandoned warehouse in the dark, little old ladies that don’t turn off their blinkers are the least of your worries. That van gave me a false sense of security but it was greatly needed at the time. I’m hoping this Gathering will help me like that did. I want this opportunity to wrap my body in layers of metaphorical metal to protect me. To keep me safe from the danger of my wild imagination. To empower me with the ability to accept that I should just simply let go of things I can’t control. I’m hoping there are scores of people who will drill into my brain that I cannot control the weather. I cannot control if someone decides to stop and give me a ride or not. I cannot control when the post office closes or the restaurant opens. Just accept it.
I’m not entirely sure what to expect from the Gathering but I think it’ll be such a huge learning experience for me. Even if I don’t learn a single thing about long distance hiking, I know I’ll learn something about myself and my ability to get along with strangers so it will be totally worth it. Has anyone gone that could give me an idea on what to expect?