The other side is a place where the walk is just a thing I did once, where it's not the only thing I can talk about, no longer the first thing to my lips, it's just another story now, just a quirk from the past. I'm just an apprentice baker who lives in a small Welsh town. I am ordinary again.
And yet, what is left behind after this intense experience washed through me? It's hard to find a perspective in my post walk landscape. I am too busy doing things to stop and gain a point of view.
While I was walking my time was completely my own and now I have parcelled it into chunks in exchange for things, money, mostly but also vegetables and a place to stay. I attend courses, I volunteer, I have appointments, I have friendships, I even have (whisper it) a boyfriend and somehow the time for creativity, for simply existing while words come to me, has been nibbled away until I am either doing things or travelling in between them. Is this called adult life? Is this what you were all doing as I trundled through the countryside, using my expanse of time to cover an expanse of land.
While I was walking I had so much time, there was only one task to do and it was so enormous, I couldn't grab hold of it, pin it down, I merely swam in it, taking it along one stroke at a time. My days were more than walking though, my mileage so small that I could stop and stare whenever I wanted, at sunlight on hillsides, at birds fighting for space in the sky, at the pattern of lichen on stones, at mosses, cows, crashing waves. There were many pauses for contemplation as I moved slowly and sometimes painfully through the land.
I miss that, the time I had to sit and think. I didn't realise it wasn't a part of ordinary life and I want it back.
I remember sitting in a field that sloped down from castle walls, waiting for darkness to fall so I could sleep there. I sat still, so peaceful in the quiet of approaching dusk that a wren hopped through the hedge beside me, I could turn my head gently to watch its small round body flitting and fluttering, inches from my own.
I miss the simplicity of a single task to complete - I am learning to grow vegetables, I am learning how to be a baker, I am learning how to be a girlfriend, I am learning how to live in a small town, how to have small conversations with people you see every day. There is also a book to write, more ovarian cancer awareness raising to work on, a boat to rebuild, savings to build up, the next journey to plan for.
So I'm doing my best. Time passes, I have dreams and I'm doing my best. This is also adult life, I guess.