I don't consciously think about the trail much. The memories are like the ticking of a clock--ever present, but only an influence when I make the effort to listen. And with my upcoming move to Florida (to be with Seth), my effort has been focused elsewhere.
My sleeping bag and pad have been hanging in a closet since I got home, and of course I'm taking both with me. As I pulled my sleeping bag off the hanger, it brushed my trekking poles which had been leaning against the closet wall. They gently landed at my feet: "Hey, remember us?"
I picked them up mindlessly, set them out of my way, and then felt an urge to glance back toward them.
In that moment, I did remember. I remembered everything.
I picked the poles up again--my battered, beaten, 2000-miler poles, and I cried.
I stood there staring at my trekking poles in my hands, and I noted every single scratch. Every single speck of dirt. Every chunk of bare carbon fiber where the paint had chipped, and every nick in the rubberized handles. I got the same feeling in my chest that I felt when I tore the last page out of my guidebook on my final night on the trail--that "it's really over" feeling. I felt overwhelmed, as if by storing things away I'd been neglecting to face the fact that this adventure was truly finished. An unconscious "out of sight, out of mind" concept had taken over.
I rolled up my sleeping pad in the same manner I had for day after day, remembering each morning on a hard shelter floor or in the moisture-laden confines of my tent. My chest ached, but I knew my heart was trying to smile. As much as I've left behind, I still carry with me some 30 pounds worth of the pride of an accomplishment, the power of a dream, and a sense of freedom that not many understand.
I think I'll bring those trekking poles with me to Florida.