Written by: Brandon "Monkey" Imp
This feels good. My fingers have minds of their own. They remember what to do. It's comforting.
Today marks four months since completing the Appalachian Trail. I only cried twice today; I call it progress. Crying is an odd concept - I am not sad or angry but satisfied and longing. My body is once again coated with a thin layer of healthy fat. Those "children strapped to the back of my legs" (as some NJ friends liked to call my calves) have regressed to mere toddlers. My face is not hollow and my feet are unmarked. The last of my hiking scars have faded. I want it all back. My body has become complacent yet my awareness of potential makes me feel on-edge. Why am I sitting in a pile of dirty laundry? I would rather be wearing them on the AT.
Four months have passed. I could have southbounded in this time. What do I have to show for my time away from the trail? An overwhelming desire for stabilization yet perpetual movement and an unsettled lifestyle. I want the 9-5, where I laugh with my new friends and go to happy hour after work. I want to entertain guests with a dinner party then crash on my couch over white chocolate raspberry ice cream and an episode of Dexter. My weekends should be open to exploring my new city of San Francisco; I should sleep in on Saturdays to cure my hangover. Doesn't it sound great? I think so. I am still searching for it - the lucky break in a down economy. Employers do not care about a Cornell degree or an AT thru-hike under my belt - they blindly need two years of experience for their entry-level positions. Doing your best has not been enough for the 45+ jobs I have applied for.
I am still hiking. Not the Appalachian Trail, of course. One step at a time. Know the end goal, but do not yellow blaze your way ahead. Love the trail angels that give you rides and housing; lend a supporting hand to those hiking alongside; do not let the nay-sayers bring you down. A woman begged for money on the street to buy me a hot cup of tea on Thursday - she saw something in me, and that's pretty cool.
I live in San Francisco now, staying afloat. I work 60+ hours per week and have yet to attend happy hour. I sleep in my camping gear on my bedroom floor and maintain a diet of cereal, chocolate milk, and pasta. I don't have much time for myself, let alone the handful of friends I am trying to establish. This is hard. I am tired. But then I walk out my front door and look at the sky - the sun and the stars are still the same. I think I'll be all right. Besides, there is another big adventure brewing for us. Fingers crossed this will pan out...