Being unemployed is wonderful. Apart from not earning income, I am enjoying life more than I have in ages. I am feeling less cynical, less anxious, and less depressed. I am nothing like the miserable wretch who was living in Williamsburg a couple of months ago.
I am watching my savings swirl down the toilet, but anyway.
Now that I’ve got an extra 40 hours per week, you’d think I’d have more time to do stuff, but I still don’t have nearly as much time as I’d like. I haven’t even read a book since moving to Weaverville on the 11th. Partly this is because the collection at my local library has some serious holes (“What do you MEAN you don’t have the new Chuck Palahniuk?!?… Oh, for the love of… Listen to me, Terry Pratchett is NOT A MIDLIST AUTHOR. Neither is Haruki Murakami.”). But mostly it’s because there’s so much stuff I want to do.
In Williamsburg, I jealously guarded my weekends and evenings, spending as much free time as possible alone, in my room, with a book. I reserve the right to return to this lifestyle once I reenter the workforce. Sometimes that is the only sensible way to cope after a day full of human beings.
But for now, at least, there are any number of activities to command my attention. There is a comic book store to hang out in. There is a tuba to play. There is a farmer’s market to visit. There is a mountain to hike. There is a yoga mat to stretch on after hiking on a mountain.
The mountain that needs to be hiked is conveniently located near my house. It is right next to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and its hiking path is part of the Mountains to Sea trail. I have now hiked this slice of trail three days in a row. It looks basically like this photo, taken very near my trail, brought to us by the nice folks at RomanticAsheville.com:
On day 1, the hike took two hours. This involved me walking at a steady pace to the end of the trail and then walking at a steady pace back to my car. Plus also there was a minute or two where I stopped and presented some grievances to God, directly following a bee sting. (Tricep of my left arm, this was. It stings. Which is what bee stings do.) And also I had to stop and pet a golden retriever puppy.
On day 2, the hike took one hour and forty-six minutes, and today the hike took one hour and forty minutes. The decreased times are due to not getting poisoned by insects and due to my experimentation with jogging. Jogging is not an activity I feel any great affection for. Since I do not have health insurance these days, I do not want to break an ankle on the leafy trail, and any enthusiasm I might have had for jogging curiously wanes when I am confronted with an incline. But, having some vague awareness that exercise is good for a person and is maybe something I should do, I have reluctantly picked up the pace, a little bit, on the parts that are not too leafy or uphilly.
At some point I will unpack my pedometer and find out how long this trail is, but unpacking has been progressing at a very leisurely pace. No jogging going on there, nosiree.
My hiking ensemble consists of a plain black shirt, a brown flowy skirt, a backpack, and my toe shoes. And also next time I hike I’m switching to a damn sports bra, because jogging and my boobs are not good companions. A woman today complimented me on my hiking outfit, which at first struck me as odd but which in hindsight makes perfect sense as I have impeccable style and people are naturally compelled to remark on it. Maybe she liked my shoes (another hiker I met later certainly did), or maybe she liked my unorthodox choice of a skirt.
If you were scaling sheer rock faces or climbing trees or somesuch, a skirt would not be a practical hiking garment. As it is, if nobody’s around, you can hitch it up in a knot by your waste. This is absolutely the right thing to do, after you’ve worked up a sweat and want to streak nekkid through the trees. It’s a good compromise, and at the first sound of another human being you can undo the knot and once again resemble a civilized adult.
My bee adversary, by the way, managed to sting me through my shirt, so it’s not as though I’m impressed by the ability of clothing to protect one from savage animals. Other savage animals I have encountered on this trail include a little bitty lizard, a gray-and-black snake, and some doggies. And I had to stop my car the other day while a turkey crossed the road.
Tomorrow I’ll swing by the library to pick up a book waiting for me on the hold shelf, the new Neal Stephenson– that midlisting hack– and so I will presumably be engrossed in reading once again, along with hiking and bumming around downtown Asheville and bumming around downtown Weaverville and cooking up apple butter made from local apples and, at direst last resort, unpacking the rest of these boxes.