I was reading last night (I know, shocker) and I got to this part right here:
"I arrived in Ashland the next day around lunchtime, after hitching a ride from the trail with a group of AmeriCorps volunteers.
'Did you hear the big news?' one of them had asked after I'd climbed into their van.
I shook my head without explaining that I'd heard little news, big or small, for two months.
'You know the Grateful Dead?' he asked, and I nodded. 'Jerry Garcia is dead.'"
Ok, so I knew this took place in 1995, but I didn't really think too hard about that. Like I didn't try to place my life in context to this journey, not sure why, I think I just hadn't stopped to consider it. So, when I read that little exchange it stopped me cold, Like floored me and here's why-at the exact same moment in time that Cheryl Strayed was walking the PCT, the exact same time she was in an alien landscape trying to survive in the wild, I was doing THE EXACT SAME THING!!
Now, to be clear, I was not alone and I was not on the PCT. I was on my NOLS course in the Absorakas and the Wind River Ranges in WY. I did a horse packing course, a month in the wild with a horse, your gear and a pack animal (there were instructors and about 8 other students, you learn how to survive with minimal impact on the land. We had classes, lightening class, bear class, etc).
One of the funny things, and the reason I remember that it was when Jerry died, is that there was a tradition/joke on NOLS (until that point) where whenever you stopped for your re-rations the instructors would tell the students that Jerry had died. Since the vast majority of folks who did NOLS were rampant Deadheads it would usually create a stir. My brother had done a couple of courses, so I knew of this little tradition.
So, we stopped for our re-rations and...nothing. No lamenting the loss of Jerry. No needling students about memorials and other things happening in the civilized world, just nothing. Now, I thought that was really weird and there were a few of us on my course that talked about it, but we figured maybe the folks that met us just weren't in the know.
Flash forward to the end of our course and when we returned to Lander, WY we heard the news that Jerry had in fact died while we were on our course.
So, last night when I was reading that just struck me so clearly. I know exactly where I was at that exact time in her story...which is kinda freaky and kinda cool.
Or, at least, I thought so.