It’s been some time since I’ve posted about traveling and trips. Among my other occupations (working for money, writing about vampires, writing about technical matters) I have been training for my trip to Ireland this coming May. There was a time when training was easier – or maybe it’s just that distance and memory makes it so. For a trip I took to northern New Mexico, I trained by walking up the 22 flights of stairs where I worked once a day, every day. I remember the ache of sad muscles, the early days when the air burned and my side hurt, but in the end there was that feeling of triumph when I could get all the way to the top, barely breaking a sweat.
Now it’s four years later and mid-menopause and what can I say? It is perfectly clear to me that the person who wrote, “I Enjoy Being a Girl,” was a man. There is little enjoyable about menopause, though it does make great grist for fiction and humor. In particular, its the short-term memory loss my muscles have inherited that rustles my jimmies. I cross train four nights a week and spend hours on the treadmill. My calorie count is pegged at 1300 a day. There are signs of improvement, but it doesn’t take more than two days of rest for my muscles to say, “exercise? tone? what?”
I come home exhausted, but still struggle with the two AM recreation of that scene from the The Karate Kid where he paints the fence. Covers on. Covers off. Covers on. Covers off. I am told it will end at some point, and like every traveler who has labored up a steep trail on the promise that there is a breath-taking horizon beyond, I hold hope that it will be the case.
When you travel distance, carrying your existence on your back, you know that weight counts – not just what’s in your pack but the personal weight that impacts knees and ankles. The first two days on the trail I always feel every surplus pound, every part of my own preparedness.
And so I work now, pushing muscles, knowing its not just the fabric of my body, but of my mind that is slowly taking shape. While this trip is not about conquering high ridges and narrow trails, it still requires the right frame of mind. There will be moments when the sky opens and a cold wind blows. There will be people who may be less than cordial to a bedraggled traveler. There will be aches and pains and stubborn stoves on cold nights.
It is the attitude you bring that dictates whether these inevitable moments are the things you hated or the memories that made this one count.