There's no way to know what makes one thing happen and not another. What leads to what. What destroys what. What causes what to flourish or die or take another course. But I was pretty certain as I sat there that night that if it hadn't been for Eddie, I wouldn't have found myself on the PCT. And thouight it was true that everything I felt for him sat like a boulder in my throat, this realization made the boulder sit ever so much lighter. He hadn't loved me well in the end, but he'd loved me well when it mattered.
I didn't know how I'd reach back through the years and look for and find some of the people I'd met on the trail and that I'd look for and not find others. Or how in one case I'd find something I didn't expect: an obituary. Doug's. I didn't know I'd read that he'd died nine years after we'd said goodbye on the PCT - killed in a kite-sailing accident in New Zealand. Or how, after I'd cried remembering what a golden boy he'd been, I'd go to the farthest corner of my basement, to the place where Monster hung on a pair of rusty nails, and I'd see that the raven feather Dough had given me was broken and frayed now, but still there - wedged into my pack's frame, where I placed it years ago.
It was all unknown to me then, as I sat on that white bench on the day I finished my hike. Everything except the fact that I didn't have to know. That it was enough to trust that what I'd done was true. To understand its meaning without yet being able to say precisely what it was, like all those lines from The Dream of a Common Language that had run through my nights and days. To believe that I didn't need to reach with my bare hands anymore. To know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. That it was everything. It was my life - like all ives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me.
How wild it was, to let it be.
Books Burned on the PCT
The Pacific Crest Trails, Volume I
Staying Found: The Complete Map and Compass Handbook, June Fleming
The Dream of a Common Language
As I Lay Dying
The Complete Stories, Flannery O'Connor
The Novel James Michener
A Summer Bird-Cage, Margaret Drabble
Waiting for the Barbarians
The Pacific Crest Trails, Volume 2: Oregon and Washington
The Best American Essays 1991
The Ten Thousand Things
In the wake of my mother's death, my stepfather morphed from the person I considered my dad into a man I only occasionally recognized. My two siblings scattered in their grief, in spite of my efforts to hold us together, until I gave up and scattered as well.
It was a world I'd never been to and yet had known was there all along, one I'd staggered to in sorrow and confusion and fear and hope. A world I thought would both make me into the woman I knew I could become and turn me back into the girl I'd once been. A world that measured two feet wide and 2,663 miles long.
Each day I felt as if i were looking up from the bottom of a deep well. But from that well, I set about becoming a solo wilderness trekker. And why not? I'd been so many things already. A loving wife and an adulteress. A belowed daughter who now spent holidays alone. An ambitious overachiver and aspiring writer who hopped from one meaningless job to the next while dabbling dangerously with drugs and sleeping with too many men. I was teh graddaughter of a Pennsylvania coal miner, the daughter of a steelworker turned salesman. After my parents split up, I lived with my mother, brother and sister in apartment complexes populated by single mothers and their kids. As a teen, I lived back-to-the-land style in the Minnesota northwood in a house that didn't have an indoor toilet, electricity, or running water. In spite of this, I'd become a highschool cheerleader and homecoming queen, and then I went off to college and became a left-wing feminist campus radical.
But a woman who walks alone in the wilderness for eleven hundred miles? I'd never been anything like that before. I had nothing to lose by giving it a whirl. 引自 The Dream of a Common Language
Their leaving made me melancholy, though I also felt something like relief when they di...