Friday, June 13, 2014

100. Crossing State Lines

I will be honest with you, my dear readers. I feel a lot of pressure about this post. It's number 100. I'm halfway through my list, and hitting number 100 feels quite momentous. Due to this pressure, I have spent the majority of this afternoon trying to avoid thinking about what to actually write. That's the mature adult thing to do! After I got home from work, I had to find a way to make myself feel productive, so I spent the last 2 hours playing my mandolin after a solid 6 months of not playing it. This means that I don't have any good callouses built up on my fingers at the moment. Mandolin strings are all metal, which is my way of saying, every letter you see typed from the left side of the keyboard, is typed with a lot of OUCHIE IN MY FING-IES. But I forge ahead, because I love you guys, and I did this to myself, so I have no right to complain.

I thought that the most appropriate way to pay due respect to this metaphorical milestone is by writing about physical milestones. To be fair, I know that a lot of long distance hikes might not cross any state lines. Maybe you hate yourself, and you decide that your long-distance hike will be wide-ways across the state of Pennsylvania, just walking on I-80. On the plus side, that would bring you within spitting distance of Punxsutawney, which means that you could make a pit-stop and kidnap the groundhog that predicts the weather.

But if you catch the long-distance hiking bug, odds are that at some point you'll hike a hike that takes you across multiple state lines. You might even hike across country borders! But when you cross between countries, you'll have to wear all black and hike by the border crossing patrols in the dead of night, completely silently. Or bring your passport. CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE. I went to high school in extremely rural, northern Maine, and sometimes we would walk to Canada just because we could. Also, because there was a dollar store directly over the border, which, when I was in high school, translated to be "the 78 cent store." But the American dollar hasn't done so well since then. Or so I've been told. I am cripplingly uninformed about the fiscal state of our country. I do all my dealings in peanut butter, ramen and paracord rope. What is this money thing you speak of?

State lines are, in the grand scheme of things, completely arbitrary. The landscape doesn't suddenly and drastically change when you go over the border. Passing by that particular mile marker isn't really any different than any other mile marker before or after that one. But the difference is that it feels immensely satisfying.

I am trying to find a good analogy to describe the deep, resonating sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction that comes from crossing from one state to another. I keep coming back to wanting to make an analogy about turning in a gigantic research term paper, or completing a really difficult but enriching course in school. But I don't think that's a fair analogy. I don't think that everyone is as ridiculously nerdy as me. How nerdy, you ask? Well, when I found out that my blood type was "A negative" instead of "A positive," my honest-to-god, knee-jerk reactions was: "A-MINUS?! WHY CAN'T IT BE A-PLUS?"


It still makes me a little bit mad.

So I am faced with coming up with a better analogy, a better way to convey to you just how beautifully elevating it is to take that step from one state into another.

Imagine you are cookie monster. Now imagine you have to resist just cramming all those cookies in your mouth at once, and instead, you can only take one bite of one cookie at a time, and only after you do a whole long of really hard, difficult muppet work. You have to savor that one bite, and soak up every little bit of flavor, texture, and goodness. And after that one bite, you can't take another bite until you've done a whole lot MORE work.

How good would that one bite of cookie taste?


North Carolina/Georgia State Line!
Maryland/Pennsylvania State Line, after the 44 mile day

New York/New Jersey State Line!
We took this photo specifically to send to NJ-native friends of ours.
Clever Girl

I guess I did a bad job of taking photos of state lines! Curses! Well, you get these 3.

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