Don't Bring Me Down
Adventure is fun.
Adventure brings you high. I love high places.
High to the sky of dreams and imaginative glow.
The high will not last; you will eventually be forced to come down to reality and face the unveiling of truth and life as you knew it before.
You will become familiar with the dirt that your ass was dropped in.
You will breathe in the dirt and watch it flow quickly between your fingers.
The high leaves and the dust settles.
So, how does one go on?
Too dramatic? I don’t give a fuck.
How does a human being move past disappointment and unmet expectations in a graceful manner?
At twenty-six, I have yet to figure that one out.
When you cut my dreams, you cut my flesh.
I walked 275 miles last summer from Denver, CO to San Francisco, CA. It does pain my spirit to admit such a small number of accomplished miles on foot. My pride and initial plans for this hike have kept me from writing about the experience due to fear of rejection and the irrational concern of what others would think of me. Damn you Cheryl, my hero.
Think what you will, I must write my story.
Eight months ago, I wrote an entry titled “Tough”. That was the last time I put any words to page (screen).
Many turns in the road have come about since that entry, none of which were expected or planned. I did not expect for dispersed camping to be so limited on the American Discovery Trail, it was. I did not expect for a simple campground with running water to be nearly the same cost as a hostel/cheap motel, it was. I did not expect to feel so defeated without my Lane boy within close reach of me, I did. My heart missed his heart.
I will never forget a conversation I had with my friend Sam, we discussed my frustrations and options going forward as I tried to calm my anxiety after the first couple weeks of the hike in Denver. My food was ruined and so was my concrete plan. This conversation led to me comparing my journey to Cheryl Strayed’s journey, this was bound to happen with her story being such a heavy influence on my endeavor. Sam quickly reminded me that Cheryl left behind much less than I did. Most importantly, Cheryl was not a mother at the time of her hike on the PCT. My time spent away from Lane, along with financial opposition, created unbearable hurdles to complete the amount of miles left on the ADT on foot.
Can you blow up a balloon? I cannot, or at least, I don’t believe I can.
During my stay with Lynne and Bill on the Grand Mesa, I figured I should sleep outside a couple times to prevent my body from getting comfortable with the luxury of sleeping indoors. Originally, I planned on using a Therm-A-Rest sleeping pad under my sleeping bag throughout my hike. This specific option proved to be extremely uncomfortable. Lynne offered to lend me an inflatable sleeping pad to provide extra comfort and support for my back. I was hesitant to accept the gift; the last thing I wanted to do was blow up a sleeping pad every night while setting up camp.
I decided to give it a shot.
After dinner, with Lynne’s family as an audience, I practiced blowing up my new sleeping pad.
I have never felt more embarrassed or insecure.
I heard Lynne (child psychologist) whisper to her brother, “This is a confidence issue.”
So much became so clear at once.
My wall was not my lung capacity.
My wall was my mind.
I DID IT.
I blew up my sleeping pad.
Honestly, I was convinced that this was something that I could not accomplish. I convinced myself that I could embark on a cross-country endeavor but I was certain I could not blow up an inflatable sleeping pad.
Lynne taught me so much during our time together.
She convinced me that a snowball was a suitable substitute for toilet paper.
This was a scary option to try.
With a crystallized clitoris, I walked on.
Following an unforgettable time on the Grand Mesa with the Cobb family, I caught a train to Reno. UNEXPECTEDLY, I met the most perfect pair of seasoned best friends, traveling and adventuring with the sole purpose of staying young at heart. Jan and Jeanette awakened something inside of my young body, they showed me a little more of who I was. Our snacks and conversations about men and pot will forever haunt my mind.
STRONG ASS WOMEN.
Reno was an experience.
A cheap hotel room.
Excessive amounts of pizza for one.
Smoky penny slots.
The elevator to my room traveled slowly as my pack pushed on my shoulders. I watched retired, rich couples waltz in and out counting their money and spreading their denture filled smiles.
Y’all gonna fucking adopt me or what?!
My Nevada state coordinator, Ted, picked me up in downtown Reno and we headed to my last leg of the trail. During the trip, he spoke to me in the most kind and encouraging way. How can someone who has known you for thirty minutes believe in your abilities and dreams? How can they have such a confidence that you will be who you are and succeed? How can a fatherless little girl search for a daddy in a stranger and hope that he responds with acceptance and love? How is that little girl still alive? She refuses to fade.
I fought tears when he handed me a cup of coffee.
We studied the trail maps together as he prepared to go his own way.
I wouldn’t dare let my daddy-for-a-day know that I wanted him to stay.
Couldn’t have him thinking that I was anyone less than a fearless hiking momma.
I will never forget my first encounter with Kim.
Kim stood in a slender stature with contagious energy and a magnetic smile.
We exchanged stories and similar experiences.
Kim was once a single mom.
Kim once quit her job and left on an unaccompanied trek.
Needn’t say more, I love Kim.
She opened her home to my world and my baggage.
I will remember Tahoe when I think of clear waters, full-bellied feasts with cigars, transcendent homesteads, and the kindest of Gods people.
I was given the opportunity to explore Tahoe by day and lay my head on a pillow at night.
I was in some kind of new and unforgettable heaven.
Kim and her family convinced me to spend my time and money to my benefit throughout the end of my journey. I wanted to see and experience as much as possible before returning to Texas.
Be smart, Jo.
I rented a little space car.
I knew my ‘Yota Yaris could take me anywhere and I felt cool as fuck.
The feeling of shoving my backpack in a baby car and driving away on wheels was indescribable.
Yosemite was the prettiest of places but the rocks made me lonesome.
I stared them down thinking, “Fall on me, you son of a bitch.”
Cameras flashed as husbands clinched their wive's shoulders in an attempt to claim them.
Kids were screaming while the scent of sunscreen flooded the air.
I remember setting up camp and cooking dinner but everything after that is kind of a blur.
The trees entranced me as they caved over my tent.
I was worried about bears but the stars were telling me not to worry about anything.
I woke up thinking about San Francisco.
I packed my temporary life and headed for the bridge, the golden bridge.
She would be my last stretch of steps and just as meaningful as the first five I took in Denver.
IT WAS EXHILARATING.
The fog was foggy.
The wind was windy.
The vibration was strong beneath my boots.
Seger was singing to me.
My hair was everywhere.
HELLO SAN FRANCISCO, YOU MOTHERFUCKER!
Thank you Jeff and Courtney for opening your home to a long lost family member.
Your compassion meant the world to me, so good to see you both.
I bought a Garth Brooks CD and headed down the Pacific Coast Highway 1.
I have never seen more beautiful country.
The waves were loud at each lookout, all having something different to say.
Looking for a therapeutic answer to all of life’s problems, I closed my eyes and tried to sit still.
I pondered for the purpose of me sitting on the side of a California interstate.
This was it, baby.
This was the end.
Thank you Shae for your generosity that brought me home to Texas.
I remember anxiously walking down the aisle of the plane trying my best not to injure any passengers with my backpack.
In my head, I was swinging that bitch around taking everyone out who got in the way.
There were no fireworks.
There wasn’t a party.
People were still on their cell phones.
They all smelled the same.
Hey Jesus Christ,
I know you’re there.
I’m still confused.
I will keep looking for the light that will make sense of this journey.
Doing what I can to figure life out, meet me somewhere.
Thank you to all the souls that communicated with me throughout my trip.
Your connection was medicine.
Thank you to the hands that gave.
You believed in me, I am forever grateful.
I recently spotted a deer on my drive home. I would normally keep driving but I wanted to watch her so I pulled over and turned off my headlights. Initially, she was running at a fast pace. She was alone but seemed very confident in her destination. It didn’t seem to bother her that she was alone. She slowed her speed and gave me a cryptic look to let me know she knew I was her audience. She danced forward in a slow and sexual manner while her hooves hit the dirt. Dry Texas dirt. She walked into the trees like they were hers and disappeared from all the humans and their movement. I became envious of that bitch. However, I was in her corner, whether she knew where she was headed or not. She was moving forward.