I have walked all the way from North Maine to stumble upon my best friend from high school’s college campus. The trail literally follows the streets through the Dartmouth campus and downtown Hanover.
With my phone battery dead, I pulled into a pizza shop to contemplate the issue of not having an address, phone number, or even a phone. With my longest day yet of nearly 24 miles of hiking, you would think I had enough time to think over options on discovering my friend’s address. Yet ten hours since I started and I had not even begun to think of the predicament. All that ran through my mind for ten hours was pizza, ice cream, salad, tap water, and toilets.
So with a thru-hiker special of a free slice of pizza, Ramunto’s Brick and Brew was the obvious choice. So still after a massive quantity of cheese, sauce, dough, and root beer, my best idea was calling my mom on a pay phone to ask her what to do.
I walked around the town for a few minutes and stumbled upon a North face outfitter where a warrantied pair of shoes were waiting for me. Getting ready to leave, I asked an employee if he happened to know where a pay phone in town was. He happily let me borrow the store phone instead and after getting my friend’s parents’ phone number and making an unanswered call to their house, I was thinking of other options.
Packing up the shoes and heading out I thought I might as well ask “You wouldn’t happen to have a Blackberry would you?”
When I heard him say, “actually…” I thought he was messing with me. But he pulled out his Blackberry and I used his battery in my phone to call my friend. “Andrew! Dude! Address?!”
He responded, “You’re in Hanover? Where?” And then said “Stay there!”
I was so happy to see him run through that door. It was just absolutely awesome to hike for that long with no one I could even call an acquaintance to see an old friend.
I have hiked for almost six weeks and yet this little taste of home has been sitting in Hanover this entire time. Telling old stories and remembering bad decisions we made and stupid things we did in high school has helped me see the process I have been through. And the great thing about all this change is that home is still there.
I said early in college that home will never be the same since I left to live somewhere else. I thought that in school but home is in fact always the same. When someone leaves, or pets die, friends move away, traditions change, home is still there. Home is always there because it is not physical. And now that I know that I can carry home with me, not in a tent, not in a shelter, but in the comfort and contentedness created by RVA.