Be in Berlin. Be in Berlin and breakup with
a girl that is too beautiful for you because it's hip to be ironic and it's
ironic to be hip, while breaking up with her because you’re terrified one day,
some day, she will break up with you is the greatest irony of them
Be on your friend’s couch in London. Be on
your friend’s couch in London while your friend works hard to earn a living while doing important adult things as you just pout away your misery
into emptied bottles of American soda and half-empty containers of over-vinegared
English style chips.
Say to yourself, ‘I need to do something.
I can’t keep acting like this’ and mean it because you are no longer that type
of young and you know there isn’t that much time in a life and there is
definitely no more time for self-pity.
Buy your tickets online and make a general
plan. And then smile at how ridiculous this is, even to you.
: 24 Hours Before :
Begin to pack your things. Grab your backpack
and take inventory of all the things it has carried before and then immediately
forget all that. Then pack it as light as you can: two old shirts, shorts to
sleep in, one bar of multi-purpose soap. Because where you are going and what
you are doing will not allow for too much else
Land in Madrid and find your bus. Then
ride the bus for three hours and sleep the entire way, because if you don’t
sleep, you’re sure you’ll convince yourself this is crazy and you should have
thought this through and maybe you should just turn back.
Arrive in Pamplona and follow the
directions you’ve scribbled on your hand. Call back the Google maps images
you’ve studied and stored in your brain and try to walk accordingly. Look for
street signs on the corners of buildings. See landmarks and take note of where
they are, where you are, and where you need to go. Step into a café and ask the
old lady behind the bar if you are going the right way. Finally, see the sign
above the hostel of where you’re wanting to go and breathe a sigh of relief. It
will all be okay.
Look at the map that the hostel owner gave
you and remember his voice as it repeats to you the directions he gave in his
gracious but broken English on how to get to the only hostel left in all of
Pamplona, unlike his, that may not be full. Then walk accordingly and pray that
you will have somewhere to sleep tonight on this, your first night
: 10 Hours Before :
Drop your pack onto the bed on the bottom
bunk. Sit next to your pack and listen to the noises of all the chatter outside
your room. This hostel is full but thank god, you were the last to fill it up.
Everyone outside is saying things in excited voices. There is the whistle of a teakettle
boiling and elsewhere, loud music is playing out of an old radio. You continue
to sit there and hope that you will sleep tonight and that you will not think
With your pack comfortably set on your
shoulders and with your shoelaces tightly tied, you begin to walk and tell
yourself this will be a good practice. It is evening but the sun is still out
and warm and you look at the only map you have. You remember the previous hostel
owner’s voice who gave you this map and you are grateful. You find the trail on
the map marked by a thin crisp blue line and you follow it with your eyes as
you watch it pass all throughout the city. And then you begin to walk.
You are close to the southern edge of
Pamplona and you have been walking for only an hour but you grimace continually
as the pack on your shoulders sends a sharp stabbing pain all throughout your
back. You keep walking though while occasionally fiddling with your pack’s
straps trying to deflect the pain or shift the weight as best as possible. It
provides a moment’s relief, but then again, the pain. You walk as best you can
until you are outside of Pamplona and finally decide it’s time to turn back.
The pain is great and you have to start the real walk tomorrow morning. The
pain is great and you’ve only been walking for an hour. The pain is great and you
have no idea how you will be able to do this.
You are in the shower and you almost want
to cry but then you almost want to laugh at the ridiculousness of the reason for
wanting to cry. So then you just stand there and let the hot shower water pour
over you and soothe you calm.
You are in bed and the door is closed. The
lights are off but you can hear the outside traffic from the city. The older French
man who sleeps above you is snoring loudly, and his wife, who is sleeping in
the next bed over, occasionally let’s out an embarrassed exasperated sigh. You
tell yourself to just go to sleep because you’ll need the rest. And finally,
You wake up and notice that everyone around
you is doing the same. It is dark and the sun will not come up for another half-hour.
You sort through your belongings and make sure you have everything you need.
You leaf through the items in your pocket and make sure you are not carrying
any extra weight. You poke at your neck and flex the muscles in your back and breathe
a sigh of relief as you feel no pain and believe that that walk from yesterday
was a good primer to prepare your body for the pain. You take one last stock of
your entire inventory, your entire life for now, and you breathe. Then you get
up, smile to everyone still around, say goodbye and close the door of the
hostel behind you as you begin to walk.