Posted by: GeekHiker | August 5, 2011

The Journal: July, 2011

This will likely be my last hand-written entry in this journal.  It will probably surprise no one when I say that I’ve come to the Secret Spot to write it, a mere two days before I’m scheduled to move out of my house.

This may have been a mistake, and not just because I really should be at home packing.  No, the last few days have been difficult; as I plan to depart, I’m reminded of that which I’m leaving behind.  This wonderful canyon, for example, which is absolutely perfect today.  There are other places, too: other hikes, favorite restaurants, my local library.  My home which, though sometimes hot in the summer and cold in the winter, has had the most distinct “home” feeling of any place I’ve lived since leaving for college 20 years ago.

Most difficult of all, though, is leaving my friends.  I was reminded the other day of when I first started this blog, on the heels of a breakup during which I lost most of my friends, maybe all, because they were mostly her friends.

Now, here I am a few years later, leaving behind the best, most awesome group of friends I’ve ever had.  Hard to leave that behind, hard because I don’t know if I’l be back or end up some place else.  It’s the one area where I truly wonder if I’m making a mistake; good friends are as difficult to come by as falling in love, I think.

Even just writing about it is difficult.  They all spoke of it not being “good bye” as much as “see you later.”  It’s an old cliché, I know.

But right now I really hope it’s true.

* * *

It’s hard not to wonder right now if I’ve gone too far.

As I’ve been typing up these journal entries from the last year, I keep wondering if it’s all too much.  Why didn’t I just find another job?  Why didn’t I just move?  Why didn’t I work more at dating, or taking more vacations, or doing more as the years ticked by?

Is this all that I know how to do, this “all or nothing” thing?

I know that I’ve got to become better with change.  The world fairly demands it nowadays.  Whereas one once stayed with a company for life, now when people learn that I was at my job for over 10 years, they invariably say that I was “there too long.”

But I had a father who stayed at his job for over 30 years.  It’s hard for this apple to learn the behavior of trees it didn’t fall from.

* * *

20 years.

Last Saturday was my high school’s 20th reunion.  I looked up the FB page.

I didn’t go.  Obviously, I’m a little busy with other stuff at the moment, but even if that weren’t the case, I probably wouldn’t have gone anyway.  I don’t have any lasting friendships from back then, nor stellar memories that I cling to.

Well, maybe.  There probably are, but I don’t want to contemplate them right now.

I don’t find that I’m particularly afraid of getting older.  I’m not having long sighs of regret about the fact that my high school graduation was 20 years ago.

What is difficult is looking at the pictures.  Seeing how those people grew up, fell in love, got married, bought houses, had kids.  The same thing my parents did.  The same thing most people do, and many of my classmates had satisfied their wanderlust back then, in high school or college, whereas I’m just tackling it now.

I don’t know that its jealousy.  Maybe it’s just a feeling of wanting to be “normal.”  I can see the appeal of having a house in the suburbs and someone to come home to.  It’s how I grew up.  Whatever my feelings about the job were, there was a nice security in having to go to work every day, having a regular paycheck.  I’ll even admit to having the perverse pleasure of paying bills, and being able to pay them.  It was normal.

On the flip side, as I paged through their profiles, it was hard not to notice how many hadn’t moved far away from Sacramento, especially those that I’d always assumed would.  But maybe that’s not so strange: even if I don’t come back to L.A., I’ll probably end up on the west coast.

It’s home.

But will I ever have the trappings of a “normal” life?  I don’t know.  Do I even really want them?  I don’t know.

It seems that’s something I should ponder on the road.

* * *

“None of it feels real, yet,” I told my friend over beers the other night.  “I’m going through the motions, packing, preparing to move, all that, but it still just feels like I’m on a couple weeks vacation from work.”

I wonder when reality will settle in.

I wonder when I’ll know if I’ve made the right choice or not.

I wonder if I’ll ever get over my fear of the unknown.

I wonder how I will feel, making this journey alone.

I wonder what my future holds.

And I wonder if I will ever be back here, at the Secret Spot, or find another place where I feel so at peace.

* * *

I’m sitting on a rock, writing all this, contemplating the journey that I’m about to begin.  The one I’m forcing, or rather challenging, myself to take.

But sitting here in the Secret Spot, I’ve had a moment of clarity.  I know now why I’ve been fearing taking the journey alone, because that reason is the same thing I’ve always felt about this place.

This place has deep meaning to me, as I’ve written about before.  And although I don’t know what will happen on this trip, no doubt it will take on the some meaning as well.

I’ve always wanted to share the Secret Spot with someone who could understand what it means to me, and how special it is.  I wish I could do the same with the trip.

I’m sometimes haunted by Chris McCandless thought that “happiness only real when shared.”  And while I’m not currently planning to solo off into the Alaskan wilderness, it’s still a thought on my mind…

* * *

I just did something I’ve never done before.

In all the times I’ve come to this place, all the time I’ve spent here, laying out on rocks, reading, writing, whatever, I’ve never done much more than dip my feet into the water.

Until today.

Today I waked into the waters of this place.  Held my nose closed, dipped my head into the waters of my favorite pool.

Call it a baptism or whatever you want, but I came out feeling different.  I stood straight in the sun, felt the water drying on me, the cool breeze evaporating the dampness away.  Everything feels sharp and clear.  My problems seem far away.

I’m writing this to remind myself not to forget this moment.  To take it, and this place, with me.

I hope my travels take me far.

I hope to return safe.

I hope to return anew.

I hope someday to find that person.  The one who I can bring here.  The one who I can tell my stories of this place, of broken legs and fires and renewal.  The one who will close their eyes and listen to the stream, the birds, the wind in the trees.  The one who will dip themselves in the water with me and feel that feeling.  The one who will look back at me and understand why this place is so special.

I hope that she exists.

I hope that I can find her.

I hope that what I’m about to do prepares me for what lies ahead.

I hope I can find some way to retain this feeling I have right now, right at this moment.

Because I am smiling.

* * *

I’m back at the car now, and finding it difficult to leave.

Before hiking back, I hiked up a ridge and looked down on the canyon.  The sun was going down, the shadows across the canyon walls deepening.

Perhaps you, my reader, will think this un-manly, but I choked up.  I thanked this place.  Maybe it’s unusual to thank a place, but today it felt appropriate.

I thanked it for all that it has taught me.  For being the place I broke my leg hiking solo, and teaching me who I am.

I thanked this canyon for simply being.  In my darkest days, I found solace here.  At the lowest and loneliest points in my life, I could come here and not feel alone.  I have been here on hot summer days, and cold rainy winter ones.  I have seen it burn, which broke my heart, and been reborn, different and the same.

In a strange way, I suppose its my turn to have the radical change, and see what growth does or doesn’t happen on the other side.

Finally, I swore that somehow, some way, I would be back.  And like any promise made to a friend who’s always been there for you, I hope to keep it.

Good bye, Secret Spot.  Until we meet again.



  1. There are some beautiful passages in this post. I am particularly fond of the tribute to the Secret Spot you end the post with. Lovely!

  2. This is wonderful geekhiker. I have no doubt you will meet someone. You’re not just sitting around looking inward and feeling sorry for yourself anymore. You’re starting to take risks, and open your eyes to the possibilities around you. Congrats and good luck, sir

  3. I love this post. I feel like I’m going to burst with excitement for you. I love that you baptized yourself in the waters of your Secret Spot. I love that it made you feel different. I think you should recall that memory – and the hopefulness it sparked inside you – every day. The possibilities really are endless and you seem so ready for all of them now. I cannot wait for your first present-day post. I’m dying to know where you are and what you’re doing.

    And in terms of knowing whether you made the right decision – you may not know for years. You’ll probably question it, but down the line you’ll see that every step you took was necessary to get you to the next one. You’ll end up exactly where you’re supposed to be, wherever that is. I’m so, so, so excited for you…

  4. This is such a beautifully written post! I’ve refrained from commenting on the earlier ones because I don’t have anything constructive to add (but I love reading other readers’ comments). This post is so exceptionally moving it brought a tear to my eyes. I am sure you will be back to the Secret Spot a changed man after this journey, and I know whoever that gets to go with you for the reunion (with the SS) will be a very lucky girl. She is out there — you just have to come out of your shell to meet/find/see her.

    As for whether the decision is correct? Just look around, and think about all the miserable days you had before, and you will know, deep down, that it’s the right choice. Keep your hopes high, expectations low, and savor the present, interact with others on the road (this is a great opportunity to reinvent yourself, if you will), and of course, blog about it so we can all live vicariously through you! 😀

  5. My friend, this is a beautiful post.

    I have some experience with taking off to find myself. Each time I returned unsuccessful but what I was looking for often appeared soon after. It’s like the Camino. An Australian I met on the Camino who had done the walk the year before said to me, you don’t learn anything about yourself while you’re on the Camino, but you learn everything after you get home and have had time to really reflect on what you have experienced. I expect you will return from your travels and you will be disappointed (I hope I’m wrong, of course) but reflect on what you have experienced and what you need will follow soon enough. Good luck, my friend.

  6. Sounds like you’ve just joined the living. Have a great trip Geekhiker!

  7. Bravo!

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