Today’s Miles: 29.6
Total Miles: 1,353.8
Meråker – August 29, 2016
I stand along the E14, a big road with lots of cars. There’s only an hour of sunlight left and Östersund is two or three hours away, but I hold my thumb out anyway, preferring to jump into fate’s river than sit and wait until morning.
I watch cars go by and think about Östersund and how I’ve imagined it in my mind for days as this mythical place that will solve all my problems.
New batteries and a wall charger waiting at the post office to replace the ones stolen weeks ago. A new air mattress sent by the manufacturer to replace the failing one in my pack that now pops up like a balloon on one end. New shoes if I can find any that fit. A rain jacket that stops rain.
I feel the stress of it all lifting off me. Weeks of trying to order things, having them fail to arrive in Tärnaby, canceling orders, translating emails and webpages, reordering items, calculating when and where I’ll be that a package can reach. All while short on battery power, hoping for sunny days so I can use my solar charger, and catching weak signals in mountain passes, because I have to keep moving, I have to keep racing south.
It has worn on me. I know it. I try to shake it off, but it saps bits of thought away from everything else, away from all it takes to survive day after day in the wild. I haven’t been able to write much, to process where I am. My mind seems dulled by it all, locked in autopilot while I scramble to hold everything together until I can fix these little, nagging things.
But here I am, on the road that can take me to Östersund, the place with the solutions to all the problems and I don’t want to wait until morning. I want to keep moving, keep pushing to this place. I’ve done all I can to reach this road. My legs are exhausted. My mind stretched thin. My will cracked in a thousand places, but not broken. Now it is up to fate and luck and the kindness of strangers along a road to get me the rest of the way.
I raise my thumb as a few cars pass, then a white van hits the brakes and stops. A man named Bjørn leans over and unlocks the door. He isn’t going all the way to Östersund, but he can get me halfway. I jump in, glad to be moving closer.
When he drops me off, it’s almost dark. He gives me his number in case I can’t get a ride.
“We have a spare room,” he says. “Just call if you need it.”
I stand by the empty road even though I know I should have just gone with him from the start. Östersund feels so close and I want to get there. I want to fix all these things and make everything work again.
I stare at the empty pavement. I watch the clouds filling the sky. I know there is no one coming to pick me up, not in the dark. I look at the phone number and dial, glad fate was kind enough to give me a second chance to accept the path it laid out.
“You sure you’re ok with me staying at your place?” I ask Bjørn.
“For sure,” he says. “”I’ll come pick you up.”
I throw my pack down in the entryway. Bjørn cooks us scrambled eggs for dinner. The spare room’s mattress isn’t breaking apart inside. I plug my phone into a power outlet to charge. The rain comes and hits walls instead of my jacket.
I sleep at peace. Tomorrow is the time to worry about solving problems. Tonight I just close my eyes and rest.