I brought them down out of a stiflingly hot attic, sneezing with the disturbed dust, heaving heavy loads down the stairs and back to the barn that is currently my centre of operations.
I can't open them, I am ignoring them. I tried yesterday, opening a lid to begin the task of sorting, dividing, discarding what is no longer useful. These boxes are my supply dump, the storage of all the things I needed and used over the course of my walk, maps, books, clothes, packages I have posted home from all over Wales; the physical memories of my walk. I opened the lid and pulled out a fleecy waistcoast I wore to keep me warm during the cold seasons, a thin sleeping mat I used for extra insulation from frozen ground, a packet of red lentils, an envelope of maps. I closed the lid; there are too many feelings and memories in there. I'm not ready to relive the intensity of what I experienced.
Already the walk feels like something I once did. Friends I haven't seen yet shout their congratulations, excited for my achievement, yet I just shrug. They're talking about something very far away in the past.
I'm in shock I suppose. It's taken a great deal of perseverance to get me and my body to walk such a long distance. Now I've finished I simply can't maintain that degree of unwavering resolution. I can see, looking back, that my determination in the end was almost a mania. It had to be, in order to achieve such an incredible thing. Now I've finished I have needed to drop my compulsion to achieve and, instead, to crawl into a dark place, curl up and rest. I am shying away from picking up that energy once again and yet, in order to produce a book, to self-publish the story of my journey, I must command myself to action - no-one else will do this for me, just as no-one else could order me to complete or quit my walking challenge.
I know what I am going to do next, I am going to make a crowdfunding attempt to publish a book about my walk; yet I am having trouble taking those first steps to make it happen. I have been doing other things. I have opened up other storage bins, the objects I packed carefully away when I left Machynlleth and I have discovered that I am a different person now. I packed as a person who wanted a home, who was attached to objects that held her history, who kept things in preparation of a dream future home. I was scared of losing the roots I'd built so carefully during my cancer aftermath, the roots I'd found myself so shockingly in need of on being a travelling person faced with a cancer diagnosis. I was scared of setting off again, unsure if this was what I wanted, so I packed against it, hoarded away my beautiful china, my crafted decorations, well loved clothing, books read many times, books never opened. I packed away the security of a life once lived and the promise of a life to come.
Yet here I am now, I've come back again and found I don't need this security any more. I'm not looking for a home, I'm looking to leave again as soon as possible. I want to walk across Europe. The walk I've completed, these 3700 miles, has changed me, it's made me more self reliant and it's made me more mindful. I feel happier to exist with the needs of my immediate present, not harvest and store for the future. I have what I need now - a small amount of money for food and a place to stay. I don't need to keep objects in a box in a barn to make myself feel better about my future. When I do find a home, whenever in my future that will be, I'll find more beautiful things to fill it.
It seems I'm writing this blog about two things at once; simultaneously opening some boxes and ignoring others. I'm facing the larger, organisational themes of life and my current place in it but unable to think about an intense recent period.
Perhaps my mind requires recuperation in the same way as my muscles do. I walked two miles the other day and my calf muscle has been cramped ever since. Perhaps the principles I'm applying to my tired, over used body; stretching, massage and gentle exercise, should also be applied to a tired brain.