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August 4 2023, Stealth Site to US Route 2:
Next morning, I awoke to daddy long legs surrounding my tent and my items—there were actually only 3 or 4, but I found I was still scared shitless of spiders, so I wasn’t having it. I practiced some breathing exercises to calm myself down as I found a nearby twig and gently removed them from the premises while squealing like a little girl.
I packed my things and continued the ascent. The clouds didn’t look promising, but I wasn’t necessarily worried about getting wet for I knew I would be going back into town tonight. The clouds were hovering over the hilltops, fog droplets pitter pattered on me as I walked and felt energized by each one soaking into my face, arms and legs. I felt cleansed and replenished.
I laughed when I received the typical views on a rainy day—the views being fog. I really grew to love it, though. At least in that moment. I loved the eerie effect it gave off, as if symbolizing a dream. I chatted with a hiker along the way, but he was too chatty for me too early in the day. I had my sassy pants on and didn’t feel like conversing, so I let him continue to the hut while I stayed on the trail and dipped ahead of him.
When I finished that section, I hitched a ride to the library in Gorham and, while there, a guy approached me with a sweet smile and started a conversation with me. He told me he was a retired law enforcement officer and that he could spot an AT hiker just in their normal town attire from a mile away.
I laughed, then he asked me what I was up to and I said, “Looking for a place to shower and do laundry,” trying to work my yogi magic.
“I would invite you to my home,” he said, “without a problem, but we’re having family over with all of the grandkids today, so it’s going to be really loud and chaotic.”
I didn’t mind either way, worst case I would set up my tent and be showerless. Next thing he did was tell me to wait at the library while he dropped some stuff off at the house. He came back shortly and brought his wife along who was sitting in the passenger seat. He introduced me to her—she was very kind-hearted and had a warm energy about her. Then, they dropped me off at the Libby House and got me a night there so I could do laundry and take a shower. Everything else was completely booked solid since it was raining all day and those were the days that hikers normally took zeros. They even gave me some extra money for food as they probably figured I was low on money. I thanked them sincerely for being so kind and said my “a hui hous” to them.
As soon as I walked in, the place was filled to the brim with hikers—they were scattered in the kitchen, on the couch, upstairs, downstairs, all over! I felt a rush of anxiety come over me, also because I felt like I smelled like complete shit and all I wanted to do was take a hot shower.
I saw a bunch of people I knew and everyone kept asking me about Voodoo, where he was and why he wasn’t with me. My face turned red and I felt my stomach tighten up. It seemed like no matter how hard I ran from him in my mind, his energy still lingered in my space. It seemed like people kept pushing me to talk and give details. My face expressed that I wasn’t ready to have that conversation yet.
I went to set up my tent before the rain came in again. Then, I showered, threw on some loner clothes and went out to eat with a couple of guys, one of whom I met in Duncannon and the other whom I had met as I was descending Mt. Washington. We got burgers at the brewery across the street and the older gentlemen who was with us trail magic’d us our meal!
He told us how he had been married for 30 years and he was thinking about staying on trail longer. He felt it was time to get a divorce. I told him of the woman I met who went through the same exact thing just a few years back. What a wild synchronicity!
Near the end of the night, I really wanted to sleep with someone, but I could tell the energy wasn’t coming from the right place, so I went back to my tent. Just as I was going to bed, Voodoo called me. I didn’t know why I answered, but I found myself doing so. Maybe it was because I was feeling lonely or maybe it was because I just wanted to hear his voice.
“What happened to saying you would respect not contacting me?” I asked.
“You’re going to have to change your number entirely if you want me to stop contacting you,” he said.
Just the sound of his voice seemed to make my body react and light up. My heartbeat began to rise and I felt a familiar heat move through me. He sweet talked me, telling me how much he missed me and how he had a picture of me stained into his mind—one of me hiking, full of joyousness and laughter. I closed my eyes and felt into the intensity of the memories.
“I’m still wearing your ring and the bracelets you made me, because every time I look at them, I am reminded of you,” he said.
I had taken off the ones he had made for me and sent them home. I found I was very sensitive to energy, especially items that appeared to hold sentimental value to me. I liked to hold onto mementos that once held a very loving memory between the two of us. I wasn’t the type to burn or throw stuff out, I just needed some time to remove sight of the things that my lovers had given to me until I was able to move through the feelings and be in my right mind again. From there, I would be able to look upon those things with gratitude.
As he was saying sweet nothings to me, I was pretty silent, mostly because I was in the middle of a bunch of hikers who had their tents set up all around me. It was basically midnight and I didn’t want to wake anyone up. I was grateful that was the case because I feel I would’ve said a bunch of really stupid shit otherwise.
I prayed for strength, but his words seemed to be swaying me and penetrating through me. His voice seemed to be melting me. He told me he bought a van and that he was going to drive south all the way to Boots Off to work for Sidetracked. That was all the way in Tennessee, which was the route I originally wanted to take so I could hitch west on I-40. He offered to take me down as far as I wanted to go and then promised to let me on my way. He was leaving tomorrow.
“Don’t you think it’ll be harder for us to part ways if we meet up again?” I asked.
“No,” he said, “I’m just gonna kill you and drink your blood so that way you’ll be with me forever.”
Not sure why in my mind I took that as the sweetest compliment, but I did.
I blurted, “I slept with someone else,” in hopes that it would make him change his mind about wanting to see me.
Instead, he seemed so calm and unbothered. Almost too calm. I had never even seen him in such a state. It was as if he wasn’t phased in the slightest or was doing a really good job at keeping his composure.
“It’s okay, baby,” he said, “I still want to see you. Let me come get you. I want to hold you in my arms again and kiss you and be the one who you have sex with.”
His voice was deep, sultry and calm—and as always, seductively soothing. I started crying in silence because I could feel myself giving in.
I thought to myself, Please don’t do this to me.
Almost like a captor holding me captive, begging him in my mind to let me go, not recognizing it was actually all me, just giving my power away.
“Okay,” I said. My eyes full of tears, with a breath of despair, I whispered, “I’ll come see you.”
The tears rolled from out of my eyes and my face became wet, just like old times. I felt like crawling into that black hole again. I was so upset with myself for giving in. It felt as if I had relapsed and had no control over where I was headed.
As I was huddled up in my sleeping bag, I prayed once more for strength and courage, for when it came time to see his face again. But mostly, I prayed for discernment. Most of my life, I had heard people tell me I had a really good heart. I saw that in myself, too, but I often got myself into situations like this.
My friends would often tell me I was ‘dancing with the devil.’ I would be so good at making excuses for what was normally perceived as ‘bad behavior’. I would be the expert at romanticizing romantic relationships. I could convince myself out of every sad story, every harsh comment made, every lie, etc. I knew how to ‘take a lot’ and brushed things off so much because I had endless hope that things would turn. I dreamed high. So, it felt really hard to break the fantasy I had made about a person. But that was what I had been learning over the years, that it was just that—fantasy.
Still, I was a dreamer of true love. Some would call it foolish, but to me, it was just something I knew to be true. It was something that felt true to the core of my being and existence. I still had faith that what I desired was out there, but I had to learn how to actually feel worthy of that, otherwise I would continue to experience and tolerate abusive-like men.