One evening several years ago, Max and I were sitting outside in our backyard and it was getting chilly. I asked Max if he wanted me to get him a sweatshirt. “No, Mom. I need to get used to being uncomfortable. Life is not always going to be comfortable. I am not always going to be perfectly warm or perfectly cool so I have to practice being cold right now.”
Last month something happened to the HVAC in my office at work. For a week during the hottest week of the summer, there was no air conditioning at all. My office was like a hot yoga studio. Or hell. Take your pick. And then, miraculously, the air conditioning came on. And it didn’t go off. It was fucking freezing. I realized that I had gotten complacent and a little princess-y about being too hot or too cold.
Right about then, my niece India called me from the Pacific Crest Trail. “I think I need a doctor. My feet have blisters and I am getting on the next bus to Sonoma County. Can I stay with you?” While India’s feet healed, we went to REI a lot. She got new socks and trail clothes. I got some hiking shoes. After a week, we put India and her fresh feet on a bus to Oregon to finish the PCT. And I got back on some trails myself. And I found the girl I used to be, growing up in the foothills of Colorado.
I realized I’d missed her. I’d been staying too long in classrooms. In libraries. Behind books. Behind a wall. Hanging onto nonexistent relationships. Holding onto boxes of old memories. Sitting in an office that ran hot and cold. It was time to to lace up and spend more time with the girl-who-was-me, who loved being in the wild, on a trail, in the hills, up a rock, on a mountain.
Last week my mom told me, “I need to do more weight bearing exercise for my bones,” after her visit to her oncologist. I came downstairs the next day to go to work and she was getting ready to take the dogs for a walk. She had on a backpack. “What do you have in there, Mom?” I asked her. She said, “My i-Pad, my book, my phone, my glasses.” Then she got the two big dogs, Lilo and Atticus, and went out the door for her weight-bearing walk.
Tonight, my Max skated outside in the moonlight then came in and gave me a big sweaty hug. My beautiful India is finishing the Pacific Crest Trail. My mom put on her backpack today and walked the dogs and kept kicking cancer’s ass. And I’m looking forward to being in the wild, even if it’s just a park trail, very soon.
Max was right. Life is not always going to be comfortable. But there’s beauty on the trail if you keep going. Keep going.