The distance was long. Xian had walked most of a week to get there. The choice to come had been a queer hardship he had put upon himself. He had no need to walk. He could have caught the bus up to the closest town and walked the half hour that would have taken. He could have asked for a ride from one of his friends. He didn’t.
People thought he was crazy. A few celebrated his bold bravery and cheered him on. His parents had scoffed at him.
“Why would you waste so much time? You can spend your vacation relaxing instead of walking. Such a foolish choice,” Said his mother.
His father grumbled, “You know, doing it just to see if you can is nice and all, but why don’t you pick a worthy challenge, instead? I hear there are plenty of mountains to climb, eh?”
Mountain climbing equipment is expensive. Xian had little money for it. And. He also didn’t want to climb a mountain. He wanted to walk to the ocean. His best friend Mike had shaken his head and told him he was crazy. Then he had bought him a beer and said, “Whatever you want to do, buddy. You do it. Don’t let anyone stand in your way.”
He felt alone, despite the support of the guys he’d drank with that night. He told everyone he was taking a vacation. He shared his plans in an offhand way. As if it was just a light decision. As if it were nothing. It meant a lot to him. He would tell anyone that, though.
Some nodded and said, “Eh, you want to do it, do it.”
“You’re crazy,” Others replied. The room was divided by the time word got around the small pub he liked to frequent.
When he got home and lay in his bed, watching the ceiling jerk because of all those well wishers that had bought him a beer in congratulations for his choice; he got to thinking. Should I? It will be hard. I will only be able to carry so much food. After a day or two I will be tired and I’ll probably smell bad. Lots of places aren’t keen on letting people just pitch a tent nearby. Where will I sleep? What if it rains? What if there is a freak ice storm?
He fell asleep to these debilitating thoughts. Awoke, wondering if he would make himself a liar. He had said he would do it. Would he not, now? Some things continue, regardless of certain ideas and impending decisions. Like having to take a wiz and needing to feed his shriveled, beer abused stomach. So he got up and shuffled around his place. Taking care of things. But he couldn’t avoid that inner voice.
Who do you want to be, Xian? Who do you want to be?
No one walked with him.
He had gathered his supplies alone. He had left his parents a voice mail. A text to Mike. Doublechecked his things. And left. After the first day, the decision was easier. Sometimes lamented, but not much of the time.
And when he got to the beach. When he got there. He was alone. Lonely. Lonely as hell, really. He felt okay about that, though.
Xian was full of life. He was who he wanted to be.