The Appalachian Trail - Did it even happen?

Did it even happen? I can’t remember. Six months on the trail and it seems like another life, another lifetime, where everything was meaningful. I’ve been back in the “real” world almost three months and the time drips away like water from a leaky pail. Emails. Screens. Screens. Emails. Twitter and youtube and all good things. I hate them. I want to throw my phone into the sea but I cannot, I am an addict.

Holidays mean nothing to me, Christmas means nothing. It’s a day our ancestors chose to celebrate for political reasons. We follow suit in ever hollower fashion because it makes someone somewhere money. The ocean and the trees don’t care what day it is, except for maybe the pines.  

I picked up a tree with mom. It was the last tree at the only store within light years of our house that still had trees. Half price. Big gap in the branches. It looked eager to die.

“Most people get their trees around December first,” the very helpful tree wrangler said. He cut an inch off the trunk and then wrapped the tree in a plastic net so it would be easy for us to transport. I spent fifteen minutes cutting the net into little pieces so they wouldn’t entangle turtles or birds. The result was a pile of plastic hairs that will break down into morsels that fish will mistake for food. Eventually the fish will die from stomachs full of plastic. There is no way to win.

The family didn’t buy anything for Christmas, which made me glad. We all found things we had already and “wrapped” them for a yankee swap. Mom was the exception. She got me a framed picture of me on Katahdin. I didn’t recognize myself. I still have the beard. There’s still a kind of wildness in the eyes. But I’m tame now. Civilization has jammed its fingers in my eyes and ears and tempted me with all good things.

I spent the New Year’s drinking and writing a song. My plan was to stay home and maybe take a walk. But I caved, and went to a party. It was relaxed, in my old neighborhood in Philly, with people I hadn’t seen in awhile. I pet a dog. We talked about Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain.

A friend had brought knock-off chinese Star Wars toys, which we assembled and then studied, trying to figure out what the misfit pieces could be. It looked like Obi Wan was wearing a loin cloth and clutching a giant cigarette. When every single person on Earth has been asked to remake Star Wars and it eventually comes my turn, this is the vision I will execute for Obi Wan.

Someone starts the countdown early so we have to do two. The ball drops. We hum that song that I’m not even going to try and spell. No one knows the words. I sneak into the night. I haven’t given myself enough time to catch the train, and so I run. My feet hurt. That part of me feels real. That feels like the trail.

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