Here I am with Day 3! These consistent blog posts brought to you by a week long receptionist temp job.
So yesterday I mentioned that I would include an angry message I sent the third morning of the Camino. But when I went to search for it on Facebook today, the whole thread had disappeared. Maybe I’m not catching it, maybe I threw it away in a bitter breakup rage, or maybe Facebook decided it was full of too much relationship drama for the internet to handle. Fair. It’s for the best . Either way, I do remember the jist of the message.
When I “woke up” on morning 3, I had probably slept an hour, if that. Even though I still didn’t feel comfortable showering, the 30 old men did. Nothing like that image in the morning. I managed to snag a computer for a few minutes and opened a very sweet and supportive message from my boyfriend at the time. To this I replied with a rant about my current view of…everything.
I didn’t sleep,
my ankle hurts,
we’re only on day three (I’m doing this for 5 weeks?!),
this is a Catholic Pilgrimage, since when am I devout Catholic?
I shouldn’t have come
The world is ending
If Joseph Campbell had anything to say about this, I was experiencing the typical “Refusal of the Call” to the journey. Yes, I’m a nerd for Joseph Campbell. Check him out. Clearly, the magic of “I’m walking in Spain” was beginning to fade and now I was actually doing the work. I got here, okay, now what?
My deal with Catholicism: Oh boy
I was raised Catholic, private school and all. I wore a plaid jumper, knee socks, and saddle shoes until 5th grade. After that, my family moved out of the ghetto of Plainfield and the public schools were a lot better, so I went there. When I was old enough to think for myself, I started to realize that many people who taught at my Catholic school (and some students as well) we’re the least Christian people I knew. Their preaching and actions didn’t line up. My early spiritual brain responded with “does not compute,” and I sadly became a bit skeptical with the whole religion thing. But I by no means turned away from the Church. It had been tradition, and didn’t think there was an option to go back on that.
High school was the kicker. I was taking CCD classes so I could be confirmed at the end of junior high. By this point I knew I was only going through the motions. There were many dedicated parents and teachers involved, including the priest of our church, who is a lovely man. But as with any group, one pain in the ass unfairly gives everyone else a bad name. In 1999, my mother was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. And though we are very lucky that she is fine now, the year surrounding her being sick was pretty difficult. Most things were understandably put on hold, including CCD. Toward the end of the year before I was confirmed, we received a phone call from a nasty mother “representing” the church. She said there was NO excuse that I was missing class (even family illness), I wasn’t a dedicated member of the congregation, and that to make confirmation I would need to PROVE I was worthy to do so. HA. I think my dad told her to screw off. We stopped going to church for a while until things calmed down and my grandmother told me it meant a lot to her for me to go back. My grandma rocks, so I’m going to follow her wishes. It was for her though, not me.
At the end of high school I discovered Buddhism, and have been studying it since. One thing I enjoy about the teachings of Buddhism is that they respect any form of spirituality that brings you closer to “God,” or whatever you want to call it. If Buddhism doesn’t make you a better person, no worries, believe what you please! They have a firm idea of their beliefs, but know they aren’t for everyone. This freedom eventually sparked my interest in the religion I had turned away from. I thought it was a shame to turn give up on something because of terrible politics and a lousy personal experience. Or a religion I didn’t fully understand. When I came across the class at Drew to study the Camino, my eyes were opened to a side of history you obviously aren’t told about in Catholic School. I was intrigued, confused, frustrated, but wanted to go back to a source of Catholicism’s past (if you believe that the Pilgrimage was actually Catholic to begin with, again, another story for later). Either way, I hoped to figure some things out for myself, whether I called myself a Catholic in the end or not.
Back to Spain
And I did! Eventually. But for this day, I was lost. We started walking and I kept my distance behind Courtney and Claire. My ankle hurt and all I wanted to do was cry. So I did. After some me time, and some pet-those-random-horses time, I caught up with the girls and ranted my head off. It was wonderful. And for the first time on the trip, I felt I had discovered a new way to bitch. It wasn’t a chain of complaints which went in circles, leaving me angrier or right back where I started. It was cleansing and purifying. And I started to feel like I was actually sweating away all of the things that were pent up and bothering me. Maybe that’s one of the ideas of putting yourself through a Pilgrimage, hmmm??
The weather was lovely and our conversations took incredible turns and we bopped along. My anger passed and I was distracted by discussions of school, religion, movies, and theories about the end of the world. Like ya do. The body is amazing in the way it makes up for things. It was incredible that with an hour of sleep I was doing just fine.
It was around the last several hours that everything started to hurt. We were trying to find Pamplona, our first major city. We thought we found it about 5 times. We walked through a very unfriendly town that didn’t like Pilgrims. But there were dogs and a festival. As with all the cities, we walked through the odd industrial transition from forest to city, then into its odd cobblestone surroundings. The road transformed into a scene out of Medieval Times as we rounded the corner and saw a great walled fortress and village on top of a hill. “Well, I guess that’s it.”
It is still one of my favorite cities. It was small enough to not be overwhelming and there was a beautiful hostel run by very sweet nuns. We had a clean bed and it was surprisingly quiet. When we asked our favorite Canadian family if we should walk on possible injuries they said with a smile, “Whatever you do to yourself now, you carry with you the rest of your life. Welp! Buen Camino!” It became a quote of the trip.
We went out that night to dinner with Julianna, the night I remember the 4 of us first really bonding. It was also the first night I had a enough wine to soundly collapse into sleep.