Walking from Big Ben to Brussels (okay, I only did about half of it, but still) gave me a new found appreciation for Lee's journey (www.madridtokiev.com) from Madrid to Kiev. In rewatching the film, I heard new bits, saw scenes I didn't remember, was reminded of the walk I just participated in, and really related to it when he said that he missed the walking when it was over. That afterward, he fell into a depression.
My experience of the end, though on a completely different scale in both time and distance (his being 3000 miles, 7 countries and 6 months on his own; mine being about 100 miles if that, 3 countries and 12 days in a group), was the same. I missed it when it was over. I missed walking up in the morning and walking until I got to the destination. I missed having nothing to do all day but walk. I miss that tired feeling, that's not drained, but used. I miss moving. I miss seeing new things every day. I miss the sense of adventure. I miss the exercise. I miss the sense of accomplishment. (Which is probably more a reflection on how I'm spending my time not walking.)
It was a good routine. Wake up, get ready, have breakfast as a group, gear up and head out. Then walk all day, through different scenery, in different pairings, having different conversations, getting to know the people I was sharing the journey with.
In addition to having the awesome experience of walking in three countries and learning how to walk through England, I had an incredible experience of getting to know four amazing women and getting to be a part of something. For me, the walk came along at the just the right time. I was feeling isolated in my dorm accommodations, removed from the real world and a sense of community and purpose. I mean, all I'm meant to do all day long is to read and to learn with occasional essay writing. I miss working, producing, being a part of a team, feeling like at the end of the day, I've put in my time and made something. This walk was the opportunity to feel a renewed sense of purpose and community.
Women are tricky. So often relationships with women go sour, involve cattiness and egos and insecurities projected onto one another. I wasn't sure how this group would work out. There were four women who were officially going the distance, all 250+ miles of it. There was a fifth who was making a documentary and joined for parts of the walk. And there was me, the sixth, unofficial, just along for a weekend between classes, super excited addition. It turned out to be better than I could have imagined, especially for a bunch of strangers. The two who knew one another best were Laura and Jane -- they had kids of similar ages and had lived in the same town of Steventon, Oxfordshire until Laura moved to another Steventon in a different shire. The one thing we had in common was that we all knew Roz. Or at least had met her once. Actually, it's possible that Jane never met Roz at all before starting and that her husband had met Roz and volunteered her to map the route. Whatever the case, it was a fantastic group. We worked really well as a team. I feel a bit awkward saying we since I didn't go the full distance with them, but they adopted me and I'm grateful for it.
. . . To be continued