Consider the following to be fictionalized short stories based upon real-life interactions during the previous two weeks. Whilst on the road attending a couple of Advanced Placement seminars throughout New Mexico, the writing bug took hold – travel does that for me.
Foremost, happy Good Friday (regardless of your religious beliefs), and may you get to spend this time with loved ones and the like.
Spring Break draws to an uncomfortable, yet welcome, end; by Monday morn, my charges will once more be at my pedantic mercy. Perhaps it sounds odd, but I do look forward to returning to my classroom. Only two more months of formal schooling afore Summer break reaches us in earnest. Frankly, I wish to keep the indomitable pace going and work hard for these next few weeks, all the better to savor what Summer brings to us mere mortals.
If Summer is anything like this past break, well, I’ve much to look forward to, comrades.
Spring Break began with a spot of welcome news from my bosom comrade, Stephanie, of Camino fame. “We bookended the newsletter,” she snapped me. Indeed, it was as she said; my article was emblazoned proudly upon the very first page of the La Concha newsletter whilst Stephanie’s wonderful review rounded off the entire manuscript. Not a bad bit of news to wake up to on your first day of a week-long respite.
Goaded by my incurable desire to perpetually wander (and equally bolstered by the humble pride my published writings evoked), I set course for Duke City. Armed with a rather plump bag of clothes and toiletries, a slew of essays in need of grading, and a score of plastic army men, I began my Spring sojourn by visiting my nieces in Albuquerque.
I suppose my brother and my sister-in-law were there too, but, come on! Babies!
For several days, I lounged about in abject laziness, earning myself a few points toward Slothfulness on the Greatest Sin Scale; fret not, for Pride and Arrogance remain my Greatest Sins (not sure I should be proud of that, but the irony isn’t lost upon me either). Alongside my nieces, I must have watched Boss Baby a half-dozen times; add in repeated viewings of Frozen, Trolls, Story-Bots, and a slew of other kid-friendly shows for the bulk of my stay. When one sits down and actually analyzes Boss Baby, it really is a horrifying concept: best not to think of such things. My rhetorical sentiments were lost upon my nieces, all the cooing and babbling failing to satisfy my desire for a genuine, philosophical discussion.
Whilst lounging about in Albuquerque, provided schedules lined up, I did manage to visit a few old comrades for victuals. My dear comrade, Roxann, (yes, the wedding one) and I dined over shish kebabs and gyros, regaling one another with anecdotes of teaching and cat ownership, all the while lamenting the fact we are growing older in body. The couple of hours we spent together over good food and better conversation, comrades, made me realize a few things:
She’s right; I’m not getting any younger. The recurring pain I’ve in my left shoulder won’t abate with time; indeed, it is liable to become worse as the joints and sinews holding my body together begin their slow process of degradation;
The world yet remains unconquered. My trip to the Holy Land may be postponed for now, a tenure in the Peace Corps currently on standby, and my delusional plans of grandeur may be a tad unrealistic, but the fact remains that the globe still has much to offer;
Do it, she urged. Stop lollygagging and making excuses, comrade. Simply do it.
I dined with Camino comrades – a lovely couple I met at the Gathering of past years – and we swapped tales (both old and new) about our Camino experiences. After complaining of thick, sucking mud, the constant deluge of southern France, bed bugs, joint pain, inscrutable pilgrims, the oppressive heat, and the ever-present language barriers, we all shared a good laugh. “Who would want to do such things again,” we chortled. “One must be nuts to go back on Camino.”
They leave next month for France.
I leave July for Spain.
The Way, comrades, is inscrutable, and the allure – the pull – it has upon me is hypnotic. There, walking amidst strangers in a foreign land, with but a few belongings upon my back; that is where I feel most alive.
Yes, my classroom offers me a very excellent manner of achieving immortality. Working with my budding scholars brings me great joy, one I have never felt before in any of my various lines of work. But the hardships of the classroom are not quite the hardships I’m endeared to on the Way.
Yes, certain individuals can make me feel alive, but I am exceptionally good at keeping them to a distance. “What are you running from,” I’m oft told. Whenever one comes too close, I prick myself upon their thorns – a Rose bloodied by negligence and lax stupidity. The Way reminds me that Life isn’t about me: it’s about other people. It would be good to have a refresher.
In short, comrades, I aim to return to the Way. A respite on the dusty trails is just what my soul needs in order to maintain balance for the coming year.
I started (re)reading On the Road by the infamous beatnik, Jack Kerouac, once again, and I must say – it’s even better a second time around.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve accomplished two Caminos and many travels since I first read it years ago. Or perhaps in my current state of longing for the road it speaks louder to me these days.
More so because it’s a timeless American classic. And, yes, I will fight you if you believe otherwise.
Moving on – it’s a brilliant book and one I think every person capable of reading needs to have a go at. Caused quite a stir when it was first published, what, with all the sex, drugs, and disregard for societal expectations. Young men should be getting jobs and raising families, not chasing their head-in-the-cloud dreams!
There’s nothing quite like blazing through a busy street, blaring Finnish metal and trying your best to sing along, the plumes of smoke billowing forth from your open window shrouding your ignoble advance into Destiny.
There, upon the horizon, quartz-capped mountains lay in the distance, beckoning you to master them. One day, Sandias, one day I shall conquer you all.
Little moments like these are when I feel most alive.
If you’re in the mood for reflections upon wandering, writing, and everything in between, by all means, dear reader, progress! For I’ve got news!
No doubt many of you are wondering – my long-time friends, family, and my newer readers – what in blazes I’m getting myself into these days. Forgive the radio silence, family and friends, trying to contact me or waiting for a call. To borrow an iconic line from President Obama, “Aaaaah, let me be clear! (hand waves about needlessly) Change is good!”
Fret not; this post has nothing to do with politics.
No, this post is a recap of my past month; a retelling of the shenanigans and string pulling your erstwhile Monkey has been getting himself into. Machinations, ahoy!
At the time of this writing, I have been sitting in various airports throughout Mexico and Texas for the past ~24 hours, having been unable to return home to my beloved New Mexico as was the intention. Through a series of rather unfortunate events, human error, and the will of Mother Nature, it’s been one hell of a day in travel.
The city of dukes, nestled amongst the Sandia Mountains; ah, my breast beats for it. I’m currently being your stereotypical blogger: sitting outside a Starbucks, overpriced coffee in hand, tapping away on free Wi-Fi, and without a single concern in the world. But let me explain as to how I came about being in this delightful relic of Spanish imperialism.
I come from a very large family and several of my siblings are already married and with child – bravo to them! It is for this reason then that I traversed the four hours from my home to come spend a few hours with the latest addition to our clan: a little niece!
To the left is my niece, my youngest brother’s firstborn child, a sweet child of pure innocence and constant wonder, with blue eyes of thoughtfulness and jovial chubby cheeks. She’s less than a week old – I won’t see her again until I return to the States in August. Knowing this, what kind of uncle would I be if I didn’t make the trip to see her before leaving? That would be incredibly selfish of me, I thought, so I saddled up and headed over to beautiful Albuquerque – if only for a few hours – to see her and the proud parents afore my departure.
In addition to visiting family before leaving, there were a few items I needed to pick up to finish my packing list. Knowing there’s plenty of hiking retailer outfits in Albuquerque, I slew two birds with a single stone. Subsequently, I booked it to REI and acquired for myself the remainder of my items: a pack cover (my old one being too large), some dedicated hiking socks (my old Army ones are heavy and don’t dry swiftly), and a toiletry bag (more durable and compact than my previous one). Once I return home, it’ll be time to assemble my entire packing list and get the final weight – 16 pounds is the highest I’ll allow myself to go.
And so I do believe I am just about ready for this next adventure. Armed with a blogging device, I hope to maintain contact with the outside world. A camera is due to arrive in the mail soon enough so expect some terribly shoddy, but meaningful, pictures to be posted on the reg.
I hope to keep this thing as a good resource for any other potential hikers of the Chemin St. Jacques/Camino Norte so expect some rather serious – yet fun – posts about Do’s and Do Not’s along the Way.
And so, farewell for today, dear Albuquerque; I look forward to our next reunion in several months.