The world has become strange

The initial reaction:

I’m home, and it’s strange.

This house smells funny. There are weeds in the front garden that are taller than my car. The cars in the street are different from what I’m used to. The lightbulbs have burned out; I flip switches and nothing happens. I don’t remember where lightbulbs are, or what wattages I use for which lamps.

Some lamps don’t work anymore.

I’m thirsty. I left a gallon bottle of spring water here, but it feels alien to think now that I was ever fussy about drinking water from a tap. I’ve been sipping water dredged up from the foulest mud puddles.

This house was draped in winter when I left. I even left some Christmas decorations up, figuring when I got home it would be close enough. Instead, it’s hot as an attic. Where are fans? I used to have fans.

All my schedules and habits are disrupted. What did I used to do first in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening?

I drove to the grocery store and was overwhelmed. I’ve been going to grocery stores for a while, so it wasn’t that, particularly. It was going from small towns to a big city, from south to north. There are cars everywhere, people everywhere. Everywhere. Lines and chatter and meanness. Loudness. I used to have social defenses—walls and moats, reflexes regarding eye contact and physical distance; they gradually eroded as the trail opened me.

This feels alien.


Two days later:

I’m remembering. This feels more like the chaos after having moved. Where’s the toothbrush, how do I turn on the stove. I saw some friends last night, and that was wonderful.

People seem astonished at the weight loss (which was substantial; and knowing what my weight tends to do, I imagine I’ll lose just a little bit more). I hope they still love me when I gain it all back! 🙂

Speaking of toothbrushes, one of the oddest and funniest things is how alien it feels to use a toothbrush with a full-size handle. It makes me laugh. And guess what? I’m wearing cotton! It’s soft! It’s luxurious! The fabric of your life! (There’s not much cotton on the trail; all my clothes are wicking fabrics—technical textiles—and they always feel a little clammy.)

Coffee! Yogurt! Salad! These are outstanding. Also, baked potatoes.

Curiously, my mental reboot seems to have gone to an earlier restore point in a lot of cases. For instance, driving. I drove a manual transmission all my life until two years ago. When I got in the car on Sunday, my hand was fumbling for a gear shift, and my feet kept poking for a clutch pedal that wasn’t there. It was as though the last two years had been wiped away.

Gradually I’m moving in. I have to be careful not to move in too hard.

The speed of living is making me a bit grouchy as I try to keep up. I feel sluggish. But the disorientation has largely passed, or is passing.

But anyway. The logistics. After much research I’m going to rent a car and drive to Bangor. Then I’ll take the bus to Millinocket and get picked up there by the Appalachian Trail Lodge folks, who will keep me overnight and feed me breakfast and drive me to Katahdin. This morning I’m going over to the car rental place to talk to them in person. I’ll have to arrange a ride from here to there for the 12th (although I think the rental place might have pickup).

Today I’m going to send myself a drop box, just to reduce the size of the pack I have to carry on the bus. I still have to permethrin most of my gear, but I can send the footprint and rainfly, and my sleeping quilt, and my water bottles, and my puffy jacket, and part of my resupply (food), which I did yesterday. I still need to figure out food for the first two days (the day before and the day of Katahdin). My food bag is already heavy for the Hundred Mile Wilderness.

I’m also hitting the REI today to buy whatever the hell I want! I have a huge dividend, so it’s like free stuff. I might just top off the consumables and start fresh—for instance, just get new bottles of Aqua Mira rather than taking the half-empty ones. I need to pull out all my gear piece by piece and see if there’s something in my camping room that I want to replace it with. I have a wide selection to choose from. 🙂

I got an iPod! What a nightmare, trying to figure out that piece of mischief! (Don’t laugh. Or laugh where I can’t see you.) The first one turned out to be defective and had to be returned. The new one seems to work, but I’m not an Apple person at all and I’m finding it all very counterintuitive. I think I’m getting it, though. I’m slogging my way through uploading bunches of CDs. I think having a broad selection of different types of music will help me with mood control and give me a tool for staying out of my own head—one of the biggest challenges I faced during my solitary first half. Endless days alone with nothing to do but think while my feet moved; I’m too ADHD for that ever to be a good thing. Now my mental hamsters can just shut up and listen to something bouncy.

I’m also slogging my way through photos. I took 2500 pictures, not counting the ones on the camera (pre-NOC). I just want them renamed and in folders and backed up on a thumb drive—not even looked at, really. Then I can empty the phone and start fresh in Maine.

March through June was boot camp. The real hike starts when I get to Maine. Can’t wait!

Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “The world has become strange

  1. Great post!

  2. This world, it frightens and confuses me!

    More ice cream, please!

    (Actually, I haven’t had any ice cream. For the moment I’m trying to slowly reintroduce green vegetables.)

  3. Ginny Henninger

    Love this! You will be fine. Looking forward to the rest of your journey.

  4. Kathy Hart

    Welcome home! It will be a brief respite before you are off again on your adventure! Hope to see you on Thursday night! Can give you a ride on the 12th! You go girl!!

  5. Beth

    I did not laugh. Beth.

  6. Shari WB

    I remember coming back to my kid’s HS Orientation at the end of a camping vacation. Weird. Just weird. All the technical commotion and bustle. I can imagine what it’s like for you. Welcome back!

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