The woods is a really amazing place to go if you have all sorts of inner turmoil and nowhere to put it. I’m struggling with moving, I’m struggling with my religion, I’m struggling with our country, I’m struggling with what I want to do next. I’m just a ball of conflict and angst, and I was just left alone to sort all of that out in a stone cavern with 98% humidity. And I think I did it, parts of it, anyway.
I read an article once about people who thru hiked the Appalachian Trail, and how they all had trouble going back to their previous lives after they’d completed it. They struggled with boredom and schedules, and they pined for the adventure and exploration. The Appalachian Trail is 2200 miles. I hiked for four days and my life is different. Okay, three and a half days, and I spent the remainder of the last day at a winery.
It’s not even really that I am different, but rather, I was just forced to silently think about all the things I’ve been putting off thinking about because talking to someone else while hiking is harder than expected, mostly because I was woefully physically unprepared, and spent a great deal of time just panting like a dog.
Okay here are the details: Andy and I joined two other couple friends in a cabin in the middle of Hocking Hills. The cabin website said it had wifi, but the website lied. There was no wifi, there was no phone service, there was no owlery. That is probably part of the whole experience, but I was not prepared to be cut off from the world. Off the grid is not a good look on me, the shakes and sweats had me looking like Vincent D’Onofrio in Men In Black.
The cabin was stunning, and truly secluded to the point that I caught myself wondering… will I be murdered here? There were three floors, each floor having it’s own bedroom and bathroom. It’s always awkward at first deciding who gets what room, knowing you are all just choosing based on what part of the house best suits your pooping or having sex style.
Andy and I chose the bottom floor bedroom with a futon. It was dark, colder than the rest of the house, and frankly our mattress at home sucks ass, so there’s no sense in us enjoying a nice bed only to be yanked back into reality when we got home. The futon was shockingly comfortable, though I imagine the booze and post-hike exhaustion helped. Honestly, I’ll sleep almost anywhere after a day of strenuous exercise followed by alcohol and a good dicking.
Hocking Hills is a stunning mix of hills, caves, rivers and rock. It doesn’t look like Ohio at all, but rather, Middle Earth. As I mentioned in this week’s podcast, I was really shocked by the lack of safety precautions taken throughout the area. Sure, it’s important to maintain the untouched beauty of the area, but how does everyone not die hiking this thing? I think trying not to die was what I spent a large part of each day actively doing. I walked along cliffs, scaled rocks and old trees and climbed through caves. As someone with a fear of heights, my body was always on the brink of shut down from untouchable terror. (All I can say is, thank god for my hiking sticks. I totally felt like a poser pulling these out of my luggage, but they absolutely saved my life during this adventure.)
I started my period (a week early) an hour after we arrived to our cabin, perhaps as an attempt by my body to keep me humble. It did not work. I climbed to the top of every stupid hill I came across and put my middle fingers to the air caring not one flinch about my tampon. And after the first day (The Shining), Andy doesn’t either.
Andy and I have been enjoying a coasting period in our marriage. We’re both so incredibly busy and stressed out that we’ve been operating under a mutually unspoken agreement to just be cool with each other and not necessarily on top of each other. I’ve enjoyed the our state of just being, and I love that we aren’t feeling rushed in our marriage and are both just tag teaming the more pressing issues around us.
It’s kinda like when our kids were babies, except the only things we’re trying to keep alive right now are ourselves. We chat throughout the day, we meet at the appropriate times at the appropriate kids’ sporting venues as determined by the events on our shared google calendar, we grab take out and collapse in front of the tv.
“We’re fine, right?” I ask, as I settle deep into the couch beside him turning on the latest episode of Impractical Jokers.
“Absolutely.” He sighs. And then I slip my hand into the front of his shorts with exhausted gusto and we both fall asleep on the couch unfinished.
It doesn’t sound very sexy, but it does the job.
But this was a weekend of me doing something really bad ass and conquering all sorts of personal demons to do it. And then happily taking from Andy all the accolades and sex my body needed after that. It was me not just succeeding, but blowing out of the water one huge thing in my life right now, and being really powerful about it. Not humble. Not modest. Not tired.
I climbed a God damn tree. I scaled rocks and stood on the edge of cliffs and didn’t pee my pants all the way. My soul, that has been severely lacking in “yes I fucking did’s” lately, has been restored. I physically and mentally destroyed every impression I had of myself.
And I took all that power, shoved Andy onto the futon in the basement, and made him worship me for a while.
Narrator: They totally boned.
And it was so good.
I have hiking sticks. I hiked. I am a hiker.
This is my life now.