This may be the last time I ever sit in this library. Actually, it definitely is. Four years of college I spent here, guzzling Red Eyes at 2:30 in the morning to cram for my 8 a.m. exams. Checking Facebook more than studying. Stumbling more than Facebook. I wonder how much good this library really did me, in the end.
I’m finally getting out of here, again. Out of the town I grew up in, where the bulk of the memories that occupy my brain rest, waiting for the day their neurons may be excited and call to consciousness the time I got hit by a tire swing in 6th grade and cried in front of everyone. Yep, I’m finally leaving. Again.
The first time I left we packed up my Explorer with everything we owned, which wasn’t much, being 19 year old college kids. Well, then a day later college dropouts, I guess. We drove West with our only goal California, no plan, barely any money, and a beaten self confidence that needed something extreme to renew, rebuild and rehabilitate itself. And we found jobs as Camp Counselors and Surf Instructors and Ocean Lifeguards at a camp in south San Diego. And we lived and ate for free and made $50 a day for 9 months. It was fun. The confidence returned, eventually.
Then, after two years of bumbling around, working shit jobs and sleeping in tents, I decided to come back here. To this town, this place where I grew up. Where all those memories are. To this library.
And now I’m done. No one will hire me, I’m overqualified for minimum wage jobs, they’ve told me. Underqualified for a real job, they say. So, what does a college graduate who can’t get a job, with $5,000 in his bank account, do? Hike the fucking Appalachian Trail.
I spent $1200 on gear. It’s all really good stuff. Stuff that will last me a lifetime and even if it breaks the companies are those kind of companies that will fix and replace the stuff because they’re those kind of companies. Why aren’t more companies like that? “We make high quality stuff, you buy it. It’s so high quality that if it breaks, we’ll fix it for you.” Maybe because these people have spent time in the mountains and they get it. They get it.
I’m hopping on the Greyhound on Sunday, I’ll be at Springer Mountain early Monday morning. That’s October 8, 2012. I don’t know how long I’ll hike. I don’t know if I’ll even like it. I don’t know if I’ll get shot by a hunter or bitten by a snake. Or attacked by a bear. I don’t know if I’ll get caught in a blizzard and die or if I can handle being alone for so long. All I know is I’m going to hike.
And so I’ve come to determine this place sucks it out of you. Or me, at least. The life, that is. That’s what it sucks. Almost two years back here and before I decided to go to the mountains I was right back where I started. Melancholy. Boring. Unenthused. Most of the kids here aren’t from here, so they don’t know. They don’t know how skewed the view of life is. Work, drink, work, fish, drink, work, fish. With a few big trucks and politics and hipsters thrown in there. Some people love that. I’ll probably never understand why.
May my charisma and confidence and enthusiasm return, or at least gain new life, by the beauty, wonder, and solitude I seek.
May I see things and feel feelings I’ve never felt.
May I become so enthralled by the beauty of nature that I cry.
May I suck the juiciest juices out of life that it has to offer me, spit out the seeds, cringe a little from the sourness, swallow, and smile that I have done something only a handful of human beings have done or will ever do.
May I become me, again.