I was just about to clear the last of what seemed like an endless succession of uphill scrambles on Breakneck Ridge when a hiker appeared in front of me descending a trail that very few people take that way. I can’t remember exactly what he said (or what I said) but it wasn’t but a few seconds later that I had a partner for the remainder of the hike.
Chris is a man who I’d reckon is in his mid-50’s – in good shape and a resident of Garrison, a nearby town. He claims to be somewhat employed but I wondered. Hiking Breakneck on a Friday afternoon? Whatever! Who am I to judge?
Finding a fellow hiker on the trail is a unique experience akin to when I backpacked around Europe after graduating college. You get to know each others’ intimate life details and then go on your way. I heard about Chris’s alcoholism. And he heard about my legal woes and plans for the future once my legal nightmare is finally over.
When I divulged that I’m considering leaving New York and buying a place in a rural setting, he emphatically chided me on that prospective decision. He’d left a half suburban and half urban setting with his wife and split for Garrison. It was a bad decision in his estimation. Nineteen years later, his house had not gone up in value. And he had not assimilated into Garrison’s gentry. By his own admission, Chris has no friends in Garrison. Not even PATTI HEARST, who is apparently his next door neighbor.
My new buddy’s admonition did not fall on deaf ears. It had occurred to me that after two weeks of country life, it could suddenly occur to me that I’d made a horrible mistake. Even though I enjoy very little of what New York City has to offer (as in the nightlife and cultural stuff), I’m not sure hiking every trail in the Hudson Valley won’t get old in a hurry.
As odd as this may seem, what’s constantly on my mind is not the “time” I’m getting ready to serve…but what I want to do when it’s over. Grown men who aren’t really criminal types freak out and cry in front of their lawyers when the shit hits the fan. Their wives and children are traumatized. Their reputations are ruined. And their finances are in a shambles. I suffer none of those.
Oh well. The point: My hike in the woods brought some unexpected feedback from a stranger about how I should plan my life going forward. I didn’t really bargain for that. But again…Chris’s advice didn’t fall on deaf ears.