Maybe I should just play “Let Go” by Frou Frou on repeat because that is clearly the primary lesson at hand the last few weeks (and likely to be the main lesson moving forward). For example: many months ago, when I was in full on obsessive mode, I had visions of cooking and dehydrating all of my own dinners for my thru-hike. I went down the intertubes, found backpackingchef.com, bought a dehydrator and dehydrated exactly 1 pear before going in to full-on relationship tailspin, thus abandoning all forms of preparation in favor of painful discussions, crying, dating, and general escapism.
Turns out you can’t really dehydrate over a hundred meals in about 3 weeks while also moving out of your apartment, finalizing gear, socializing, and wrapping up clients and mountains of paperwork. Who knew. The other day I had a conversation with a friend about how I love doing things in extreme ways, and I originally wanted to make all of my own food because it felt like the hardest thing to do (I also happen to LIKE my cooking and try to avoid a lot of the fillers in packaged foods, but if I’m honest, those are secondary reasons). I told my friend I felt like a failure because I was considering giving up on the dehydration projection. She looked at me and said, “I’m pretty sure hiking the Appalachian Trail is already an extreme thing to do, and you’re not failing if you don’t make all of your own food.” So simple, but I couldn’t get there on my own. I needed permission to let the dehydrating go. This, by the way is very different than saying I am “giving it up,” which feels rooted in a failure framework. Then I paid my friend for her clinical services with chips (she’s a fellow therapist and we were eating lunch).
What am I doing instead of listening to the drone of my dehydrator 24/7 while swimming in vats of black beans? Well, I can’t bring myself to throw ALL caution to the wind and just buy food as I go (madness), so I ordered a small supply of prepackaged dehydrated food from Mary Janes Farm and dehydrated spinach, sweet potato, butternut squash and cabbage from Harmony House. I’m going to divide the veggies into smaller batches and include them along with the prepackaged meals in whatever mail drops I end up doing (still TBD). This way I can add a bit of nutrition into whatever gourmet grocery store concoction I happen to be eating when I’m between mail drops. I forced myself to only order a small amount of supplies so that I can adjust strategies on trail if need be. If things are working well, I can ask my parents to order more of everything to keep this system going. Of course, this requires learning the next lesson I keep butting up against: asking for help. Ah yes, the dreaded H word…
Picture: Red pleading with our friend to share her chips during a lunch break at the Riga Shelter in CT, Canon Tlb (film), November 2015. Note the blurry wagging tail, which is his primary strategy for overloading you with cuteness so you won’t realize your hand is slowly moving towards his mouth with the bite you were about to put in your own mouth.