Talkeetna, Alaska -part 3

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The author, photographed by her husband at Denali State Park.

I wanted to leave it all behind: the sadness, the pain, and the trauma. But they were too deep in me to forget. Perhaps I could slowly shed them if I just took the time. I am not going to lie: I did not care for hiking. I am allergic to bug bites, my skin gets easily sunburnt, and I would rather be doing something productive. But I had just eloped with someone who loved the wilderness and being outside. Besides, there was not much to do — no home wi-fi, not even good cell phone towers. I journaled and read books I rented from the library — which, luckily, was located a short walk from my place. But on his day off, I could not force him to say in the cabin.

We drove to Denali State Park one day — located about an hour away from Talkeetna. The plan was to hike and camp for the night. I did not have hiking shoes, not even sneakers. Off I went anyway, wearing rubber clogs, one foot in front of the other, at my own snail pace. I was not going to try and keep up with my athletic’s husband fast rhythm. I was out of shape, both physically and mentally. A brisk walk made me numb and foggy, like the oxygen in my lungs was just not enough for the task. At one point, I was so far behind him that he gave up on waiting for me or cheering me into speeding. In hindsight, the pause he took to take my picture was significant — the digital camera’s low resolution captured the image he took. That later allowed me to memorize that day and look at it differently from time to time.

At first, all I saw was a woman, so small between mountains, walking a trail to nowhere, whose goal felt like an unusual chore: to camp for one night only to go back the next morning. Later, I started appreciating the nature around me, in what previously looked like mere rocks. There were spirits there, watching over me and likely taking the burden away from my shoulders so I could keep going. They were probably protecting me from the cold, the bugs, and the bears, so I could still be a survivor. Such ghosts probably helped those lungs of mine get filled up with new air, unpolluted, healthy, and capable of transforming me at a cellular level.

I still remember being tired just by looking at this picture, though. I felt near death, although technically, I was still young and healthy. Was that because I had given up? Could I come back from that? Or, would I have to become someone I did not know yet?

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Actress, writer, public speaker, ex-lawyer, vegan, witch. The only thing that matters about my childhood is that I survived.

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