Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Post-Trail Blues

So it's pretty suffice to say that since we returned from New Zealand, we've had a black cloud following us around, or maybe it is just reality overcompensating for our 6-month escape. 

Someone said this line to us the other day and it just about sums it up: "Wish in one hand, shit in the other. See which one fills up first."

Basically, life can't always be roses and sunflowers. I know that. 
I love our rose bush outside our house.

Going from trail to reality is always overwhelming. Trail life is idyllic, exhilarating, simple and freeing. We didn't have to deal with these things: a parking ticket from 6 months ago, replacing a drive shaft in Big Bird, burst pipes that flooded our home destroying lots of our belongings, spending money to get those burst pipes fixed only to find out we will be selling the home, a shady contractor who owes us money now for unfinished and shoddy work, building inspection problems due to our shady contractor for which we are now responsible, headaches with dealing with the city offices, filing taxes, the death of our beloved McKinley and all of the other harsh realities I'm forgetting at the moment. 

On the trail, we have easy daily tasks: wake, eat, walk, eat, walk, eat, walk, find water, find a campsite for the night, cook dinner, sleep. We carry what we need: 1 cooking pot to share, minimal clothing, shelter, a few days worth of food. We are constantly among like-minded hiker trash who get it. We are experiencing high endorphin levels with a huge goal and a sense of purpose everyday. We find joy in the little things: showers with shampoo, conditioner, soap and a towel, sleeping in a bed indoors, home-cooked meals. When you get off the trail, these things just become part of normal life that you take for granted. There's a hush hush term about post-trail life; it's "post-trail depression." 

Clearly, we have a bit of the post-trail blues. Life has hit hard these past few weeks. 

Part of it is the excess of "things." Right now, we are on a mean streak of purging. Purging like we never did before. You see, we've had this house for 10 years and though we didn't live here all that time, we filled it up. We used to joke that it was our very expensive storage unit. Someone is getting rid of a beautiful, big piece of furniture. We'll take it! We have the room to store! Someday we'll use it! Not to mention all the things previous tenants left behind. Anyone want a broken piano? I'm a saver, but J is MUCH more of a saver than I am. He still has at least 150 From Good Homes cassette tapes, which, sadly, survived the flood. On the other hand, when he decides to get rid of things, he is a wiz at eBay and Craigslist. He just sold 5 sinks that have been sitting in the basement for hundreds of dollars and a 1975 Volkswagen Beetle Manual for $13! I'm starting to think he could sell poop to a farmer. 
J with his pile of purge!

We are still holding onto most of our furniture and possessions (just in case), but we want to minimize all of that to a 10x10 storage unit and separate what we need on a daily basis to fit in Big Bird. After living with no more than 25 items in our backpacks, everything else seems so wasteful and excessive. We really don't need 25 sleeping bags. A 10x10 storage unit seems excessive, yet we are just not ready to purge everything.  

But the other part of the blues has to do with our blank slate. I know selling our house to the city was definitely the right decision, validated by all the higher-than-planned estimates for work we received. However, I do feel a little like we are abandoning Danville. There is a lot of potential in Danville, but we are taking a tiny piece of hope away by walking away from the house. After we close on July 1, the city will most likely just board up our house and it will sit for months, even years, before another buyer/investor comes along. I walk around our house and think of all the projects we dreamed of doing and never getting to. I hope someone someday will make this a beautiful and finished home.  

The other sad part about selling the house is that now we are really, truly homeless. For the past few years, when people ask "where do you live," our answer has not been simple. I joke that we are the happiest homeless people you'll meet, but I was always able to pull the "we own a house" card when people gave us a discerning look. However, we will no longer have that. And, I know we will never, ever, truly be homeless, as my mother-in-law and my own parents reminded us the other day. But, we are in our late 30s. Need I say more? 

Then, there's the other question. "So what do for a living?" J proudly answers, "we hike." Sometimes that answer makes me want to hide under the covers. When we were in New Zealand, everyone thought we were in our 20s, so this answer seemed acceptable. "Oh, do it now while you're young," people would say. I repeat, we are in our late 30s. I'll be real honest and say I sometimes feel like a dirtbag for admitting we only work when we have to. My friends remind me that we have worked hard to create this life less ordinary and are not being irresponsible, as strangers would assume. Our ability to avoid putting down roots is actually admirable. Our society is slowly accepting the idea of living outside the box and in our travels, we have met far more wayfaring comrades than you can imagine. But, still, most law-abiding, tax-paying citizens really start to squirm when we tell them we are purposely jobless and homeless in the present moment. 

I guess what I am trying to say is we are at a crossroads with our life. I know you all want to know what's next. Heck, I want to know what's next. All I can say is there is this ghost life I remember, one in which we lived a "normal" life. For the right job and in the right location, we'd return to that life. Then there is the vagabond life we have with the next contract job around the corner and long-distance hike in the works. Only fate and time will tell what's next for the Wandering La Vignes! 

And, please don't cry us a river. There are plenty of good things going on, like our car passing inspection and awesome friends in Danville! We have appreciated all of your comments/e-mails from afar too. Thank you for letting me use the blog as my outlet. I promise to post something upbeat in the next few days! 

3 comments:

Misti said...

Keep wandering! Don't give it up yet.

I follow lots of bloggers/hikers who are dirtbagging it still. Some older than y'all. Do it for awhile and then set up somewhere that you can take long periods off for other adventures during the year.

Y'all aren't done yet!

(This is from me, the person who now has Big Responsibilities...ie: a baby...and can't wander as easily anymore. So, I'm living through y'all! ;) More hikes for me to read, please!)

Alicia Hamilton said...

I enjoy how real you are on the blog, and in person. You always find the silver lining, even if it's covered in mold...

Miss you! We've got finished basement space (waterproof!) if you wander this way : )

-Alicia

Siren said...

I find that being around other thru hikers / dirt bags is very important. Sometimes it's fun to tell people you're purposely homeless and see their reactions, but after a while of hanging out in regular society, it's easy to start feeling like you're doing it wrong. Being around likeminded folks can reaffirm that what you're doing is perfectly fine and you're not alone.