Adventure Wounds

Disclaimer: I’m feeling nostalgic and a little dramatic. Carry on!

 

Sometimes when I’m front of a mirror I still lift the hem of my shirt to inspect the dark stains on my hips where my pack straps rubbed my skin raw over a thousand miles. I wonder if they’ll ever really go away, but I don’t really want them to.  I earned them.

Sometimes when I’m trying to pull my slowly-growing-out hair into a nubby pony tail I tug at the short strands above my neck and remember when I snipped those curls off with a foldable medical scissors in front of a grimy motel mirror because they were too long and stuck to my neck in the heat of the day as we crossed sun baked fields and lonely balds. It’s only a matter of time till they grow out completely, but I’m impatient and wonder how long it will be.

Sometimes when I’m walking across the road to the mailbox I feel the familiar, sharp twinge in the arch of my foot. I wonder if the tendon will ever fully recover from those hours of scrambling over jumbled fields of rock in the White Mountains.

But every night when I’m falling asleep to the glow of my phone screen and the hum of our space heater I know how much I miss it: falling asleep to the rustle of gusty mountain breezes and the startling crackle of nocturnal wildlife —“It’s probably just a raccoon, Lara, go back to sleep”—, waking up crusty eyed and sore to the glow of early morning sun through our yellow tent walls—“Hey, Levi, it’s 7, we need to get moving if we want to make it to Gorham today”— spending day after day coated in the grime of the woods and eight muggy hours of hiking, thinking of how many miles I need to walk before I can take a snack break and dreaming of the 1 lb. burger I’m going to eat when we hit the next town. And always, always feeling fully, painfully, exhilaratingly alive.

People often make wanderlust sound romantic and exciting, they paste pretty words about it over pictures of mountains or the ocean. I don’t know if those people know about not being able to sleep because the ache in your chest is yelling at you to get up and go. I don’t know if they know about the equally miserable ache of homesickness begging you to sit still and be content for a while. I don’t know if they realize how much it can hurt.

Sometimes I wonder if this feeling will ever really go away, but then again… I don’t really want it to.

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Comments

  1. Hans Wenger

    dear Lara; your words put it sooo well. Thank you for voicing them.
    As I read them, my corneas glisten with the shared ache, and the memory of this monday and tuesday when I finished walking New Jersey alone, carrying your eyes along behind my own, in earnest of a future day when you will walk there.
    I too wondered if the sinews would eventually heal the twinges away, and the darkened oppressions on the skin would fade….the body has healed; but the stamina so trudge-ingly gained leaves quickly at my age. And the heart, well, the heart is still divided; hungering for the high breezes & the far vistas, and the “bed-room” without a wall; yet, given the truth in Bilbo’s quick poem :
    “When winter first begins to bite
    and stones crack in the frosty night,
    when pools are black and trees are bare,
    ’tis evil in the Wild to fare.”
    I’m not sad to have closed my pack for the year, and sit by my fire, as it were, cherishing my domiciliary comforts, and the close arms of my family; storing up my camel hump for an “assault” with susan & evan on Conn. in 7 weeks. There are some things I learn and feel only when I am on the trail; there is still more I have to learn.
    “Bumsly Owl”

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