I was planning on leaving by the end of October, I already had a weekend in a castle planned with friends on the 10thof October and my plan was to walk the Pieterpad (a long distance walking route through the Netherlands). Doing the entire Pieterpad would mean that I would have to leave around the 20thof October, it was my dad’s birthday on the 26thand it seemed like the right plan to leave after that. We had a nice family get together and it was good seeing the whole family one last time before my trip. Fate threw me a curveball however and I wasnt leaving as planned. Since I didnt have a real deadline or anything I took it slow and abided my time.
Coincidentally there was a death in the family that I felt like I had to attend, also found out that the Pieterpad doesnt actually passes through the place where my grandmother was buried. The death in the family was in Germany and we would pass by the town where she was buried so waiting seemed to serve multiple goals. Now you can look at this as bad omens and of course to some extend they were but I wasnt going to wait for the winter to pass and doing a summer camino. The time of waiting felt over and I wanted to see where my limits lay, maybe a long winter hike is going to be that limit.
Finally after all was said and done, I set out on Wednesday the 2ndof October.
Ofcourse I couldnt just walk off that easily. Society’s clutches are pretty strong and the forces in this world werent going to give me an easy trip or anything.. Walking through the Netherlands and also your hometown is just a weird experience since you know every corner and all the tiny little details about the place but still you dont actually feel like you belong there at that moment, until Groningen was going to be a route that I had already walked time and time again. The day before I left, I had a sort of a training day and I went to a friend and walked maybe like 10km. Even though my bag was heavy, I felt like I could handle it.
The next day I left and as soon as it started raining I noticed that I didnt have a maximal setup for my mexican blanket (which is made out of wool) which will soak up all the rain right away. The road was nice though as was the weather until I reached the city limits of Groningen.
I could notice a blister forming on my feet and the fact that I set myself up for a deadline (once again) wasnt very smart to begin with but I kept on going. It was already getting pretty late and with the on and off rain coming in here and there I wasnt exactly getting into the flow. I didnt make the deadline at all so I went to do that other deadline – get a stamp from the Martini Church in Groningen, I wasnt going to start walking from my home and not get a fucking stamp there. I went by the church but they werent open, the tourist office told me that they were open tomorrow (hahah duh). Just an extra fuck you dime in fate’s coinsack. As the bad omens keep piling on I came to the conclusion that this was also part of the test. Was I going to quit? Find a job and leave in the summer? Or just carry on running headfirst into that wall until it breaks. Since my head is pretty hard I decided on the latter.
Its all a test, one big fucking test and when life gives you lemons – you fucking eat them (Lemonade is for children).
I ended up walking to Groningen and then took the train right back to Zuidhorn, like a million times before. My savior and the very bane of my existence. The blister on my feet was getting kind of intense at this point but I took good care of it when I got back home. One last night, after this long a period, with my parents wouldnt hurt. Putting them through 2 times of goodbyes kind of made it easier as well it felt like, where as I thought it would make it harder. The fucking joke was completely on me but I was still determined on leaving the next day.
Doing a routine checkup on my bag I found out that there were a lot of things that I actually didnt need all the time, therefor I chose to leave these things.No walkietalkies, no little screwdriver set, no extra pants, no spare Tshirts, no SuNsCrEeN!, no OIL for MY knives!!, NO SPARE UNDERWEAR!! NO LEATHERMAN!!! (to name a few). This is why you cant have nice things Jordy, you cant fucking carry em! This lightened the load by a substantial margin. I contemplated leaving my costume for the castle behind as well since that would allow me a substantial amount of extra space and therefor more stuff that actually comes in handy long term but fuck me sideways, Im not going to let a little weight and somewhat essential stuff come in the way of my commitment and honor to the group.
The weekend with my friends was going to be a breaking point/sort of safety net built into the journey where I could still decide on my sanity and have an easy ride back. Knowing they would pick me up where ever I was without having a deadline really put me at ease as well as be a nice break from the walking itself (as well as a goodbye were I to to continue). It all depended on how Lucy felt, I felt, how the road treated me and if I got signs that this was the right thing to do at this time.
My parents and me had a laugh about the whole thing and it was an evening like one I experienced a 1000 times over, we watched True Grit – a film that has been in my library for quite some time but it seemed I never gotten around to watching it. I cannot say I did not take this as a small sign.
Get over here Wall, I want you to meet Forehead.