Written by: Brandon "Monkey" Imp
It's something everybody has dealt with in their life - you miss your family and friends. The separation could be for any number of reasons. You went off to college, studied abroad for a semester, went on a long trip, or one of you moved permanent residence. Some identify the feeling as home sickness. Is it still home sickness if you miss people from more than one place? I miss my family and friends in New Jersey, everybody at Cornell, random encounters in Hawaii, my Rome friends who dispersed across the U.S., friends in Buffalo, family in Michigan. I've begun to miss thru-hikers who I have not seen in over a month. This is not home sickness. This is a longing for the familiar.
I can usually build a strong wall to contain these (in my opinion) terrible emotions and feelings. Sure it is selfish; however, when I reconnect with the family or friends via telephone, email, or in person, my gratitude for their friendship is genuine and I believe they understand. Although I am not great at frequently staying in touch, I am so thankful that our sparse communication is enough to maintain a strong friendship.
My wall recently crumbled. The floodgates opened, and it is terrible. I think about friends and family all day long. My heart hurts thinking about our separation, but my memories make me smile.
The floodgates opened because I was caught off guard. We have been hiking with a new group of thru-hikers (our days off for Kate's graduation gave time for others to catch up) and one of them is Breeze. Breeze, myself, and six others were sitting around the shelter and chatting. I gave my general introduction and revealed that I am a Cornell graduate. Breeze said, "I know somebody from Cornell." Now, at a school of 13,000 undergraduates, the, "Do you know ....?" question is usually inapplicable. But she said, "Do you know Carla P?" APEGHOIAMNWPOMAIEG Not only do I know Carla, but I lived with her last semester and she is one of my closest and oldest Cornell friends. It was like a slap in the face. She had seen me in Carla's Facebook profile pictures and finally placed my face. We talked about how Carla was doing, how we met, and how they know each other. My brain would not stop. Images and memories and conversations flooded my mind. Those of Carla connected to those of the other apartment girls and High Rise 5 and Greek Life and biology and theatre and parties. 3.5 years had been released at once and it was overwhelming.
Then, it began. Other thru-hikers began looking like and acting like my friends. Snickers IS my friend Alex. His voice, mannerisms, and energy are the exact same. Sideways D looks like my friend Sarah. They are blonde, have the same body type, laugh loud, and have the same large smile. Inferno reminds me of Molly, a WWOOFer I met in Hawaii. They are blonde, energetic and laugh a whole lot. Megalodon resembles Dan W., someone from my Scout troop. They both laugh with an asthmatic-like hiccup and their face contorts the same when they smile.
This is crazy. My family and friends are great, but they need to stay out of my head. That wall needs to be rebuilt. I still have 2.5 months left on the trail and cannot have my emotions pulling me twenty different ways.