Camping in the Catskills, 2014, by Charlie Grosso

Undercover in NYC…(Where the author finally, at last, accepts the obvious. Lets not talk about why it took her so long. She feels plenty dumb)…Part 3

I went on a poorly conceived 3-day camping trip in the Catskills with a friend. Wilderness, campfire and star filled sky were what I had in mind. Except my trek mate’s ODC got the better of him and a simple weekend unraveled. We called it quits after two days and came back into the city. I stayed with another friend for the extra night; I had rented my apt to Aussies touring the US for the long weekend.

I walk across Madison Square Park with my pack on, a purple 65-liter Osprey, she has travelled the world with me. The random holes and the sporadic mending jobs marks the roads she’s seen. Dressed in fleece and cargo pants, and the backpack on, I am suddenly anonymous and I see the city with new eyes.

“We already are. Do you not see that?” Those words ricocheted around knocking me loose from this neither or place I’ve been stuck in. Yes. I am. I see it now. I am what I am. I wouldn’t love being the road as much if that is not where I belong.

Dear Box of Should(s),

You are filled with lovely things: children, family, 401k, single track career, paid vacations, stability and more. Except you are not for me. We all live in boxes of some sort, I’m not that delusional, but I will create this box myself. I cannot be contained in you, contorted out of shape, and poking at you from within. Let’s call this for what it is… you are not meant for me and I am not meant for you.

The final bell has rung. This thirty some odd year fight is over. I am what I am. I am an explorer. I belong in the world, not inside of you.

With respect,

A woman named after Charlemagne

Searching, exploring, thriving, questioning. These are character traits and people don’t change that much. I will be like this the rest of my life. It’s time to accept that.

I drop my passport off at the Pakistan Consulate. A short two-week stint through the Northern Tribal territory with a friend who is made of the same things as me; dangerous and remote, chasing goose bumps. What will my box look like? Love and partnership, fortune and legacy, children and home —- I don’t know and I might not find it all, it will be different than advertised that much I know.

Disguised as a traveler, I hop on the A train and head home.