Twenty years ago, if you had asked me where I would go if I could go anywhere in the world, my only answer would have been ‘away.’ Back then, if I could have pushed a button and escaped my life, I would have, not caring where or what I had to do. I would have left my miserable midwestern town and my family, with my parents who didn’t (couldn’t?) care about me, and my three brothers who were in the throes of what my mother used to call Young Buck Syndrome, which meant fighting everyone and everything all the time as they tried to establish dominance over each other and their own lives. I would have gone anywhere, done anything to get away.
Fifteen years ago, if posed the same question, I would have laughed, because I was exactly where I wanted to be. I was beginning an Atlantic to Pacific trek across Costa Rica. Fresh air, good food, amazing companions, beautiful landscape. I had everything I needed in a pack on my back and in the people surrounding me.
Ten years ago at this time, I was single for the first time in years, and still trying to figure out what to do. I had a job that I liked ok, but didn’t love. I had great friends and a pretty interesting life outside of work. Back then I was rock climbing every chance I got, and I would have loved to have the chance to head back to South America, not to Brazil where I had worked or the Andean highlands where I had studied, no, my dream trip was trekking around Tierra del Fuego. If I could have gone, I would have. I would have dropped everything in a heartbeat. But I didn’t, though I had other upcoming adventures. I also didn’t know then that I was one month away from beginning the most important relationship of my life, one month away from dating Will.
Five years ago, Tierra del Fuego was still my dream trip. I would have loved to go to Torres del Paine. But I had returned to school, and Will and I were beginning to try for a new adventure, one that involved conceiving and raising Wildling. Still, though, given the opportunity, I would have gone to Tierra del Fuego, or followed my other dream trip to trek to Everest basecamp, or finally traveled to Iceland like Will and I had discussed so many times. So many adventures were on my list then, and still are today.
Today, my dreams have changed, just as I know they will in the future. In the future, there are places I want to be, places I want to take my children, hikes to do, mountains to climb. But today there is only one place I desire to be: a big warm comfortable bed. If I could go anywhere, do anything, it would be sleep comfortably all by myself. I picture a remote cabin in the woods somewhere, maybe the mountains. The location doesn’t matter. It’s raining outside, a soft autumnal rain. The outside air is cool and slightly humid. I’m inside, in a huge bed with a soft mattress. I can hear nothing but the sounds of the rain and the fire crackling in the fireplace. The bed has thick blankets, the kind that weigh you down so that you feel protected and warm. It’s dark, except for the firelight. I am alone, completely alone. Nobody is crying in the next room, nobody wants or needs anything from me. I can just crawl into that warm soft bed, curl up in any position my body wants, and fall blissfully asleep alone. And I can sleep until I wake up, still alone.