Average Jane

40 minutes: Surviving DC

40 minutes north of my suburban DC apartment is Gambrill State Park, my destination for the weekend. I went to face some of my fears, and was surprised, as always with everything else I faced as well.

One thing I learned about living in the suburbs of a major city is that it can be pretty depressing sometimes. The monotony of every day life: the traffic, the SUVs, the soccer moms, the 9-5 day job, the daily grind… I’ve learned, however, that there are ways to stay centered, grounded, and human in this suburban life. For me, I take to “nature”, typically finding myself at Swain’s Lock on the C&O Canal. A short 10 or 15 minute drive, and I can effectively trick myself into forgetting about my simple suburban life. I sit on the edge of the Potomac River and, if only for a moment, act like I am not a starbucks-sipping, mall-shopping, car addicted, suburbanite who is a square peg in the round hole of nature.

But nevertheless, I go.

This weekend, my friends challenged me to go further. 40 minutes further to a state park for a camping and hiking experience. My fears nearly paralyzed me. But somehow the winds of my desire to change carried me up the mountain to a campsite where I never imagined I’d be.

I was dressed wrong: “You’re going to want to wear shorts,” they said. “Oh.” I responded, disappointed that my pants-wearing decision had been misguided. I changed into the shorts I brought on a whim.

Dressed correctly, group gathered (7 of us – 2 couples, 3 single ladies, all but 2 strangers to me), we took to the trail. It was daunting, but I was prepared: Three possible orthotic combinations, water, protein bars, and a bag of almonds.

We hiked for hours, mostly uphill (as mountains go). We had no plan, deciding as we went the path we’d take, guided only by a vague map that looked like it had been drawn on a wall by a 3 year old with a box of crayons. I trusted the trails, the signs, my fellow hikers. I trusted.

We stopped for lunch, my feet still feeling great. It wasn’t until after lunch that I realized my decision to change orthotics around hour 2.5 was a bad one. The aching started, in my bones. But I was not stopping. My feet were not going hold me back. My fears were not going to be realized.

Hour 3.5 or so was when I took the lead, walking in front of the crowd in silence, pensive silence, centering silence. I thought about the people in my life: my friends, family, romantic interests, romantic conquests, romantic train wrecks. For 40 minutes I walked in silence (and for those of you who know me, you can appreciate the feat). I tried to ignore the pain. I tried to ignore the slowly growing need to relieve myself.

Then the troops reunited, finished the downhill trek back to base camp, and the real fun began. The the time was spent drinking coke zero and jack/rum, cooking dinner from various bags, tending the fire, swinging on the swing set, celebrating love (my two friends have big news!), staying dry, and more importantly, building friendships between strong women that I am quite sure will last a lifetime.

I was away from home for almost exactly 24 hours. I swore that if it rained or if I got stressed out I would turn around and come home. I think I realized, though, that the rain and the stress were what made me appreciate the people I was with, the support I was given, the lessons I still have to learn.

40 minutes outside of suburbia is an unassuming park in an unassuming town, but what I didn’t assume when I went there was that I would come back so proud of myself, thrilled to death that I know so many strong, laid back, smart, caring people who seem to love me very much.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Before the Fall « Average Jane pingbacked on 11 years, 1 month ago


  1. * ceecee says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed such experience. It’s so sweet to have people like your friends who gave you the support and lessons you needed 😀 Any pictures?

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 1 month ago
  2. * Dan says:

    I agree with ceecee, PIX PLZ

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 1 month ago
  3. * Carrie M says:

    good for you, babes. Glad it was such a nice weekend. I thought about you yesterday with all the rain – congrats for sticking it out!

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 1 month ago
  4. * intuind says:

    hmmmm…very interesting!
    Thanks google

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 6 months ago

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