I’m mainly writing this so I can look back on it later with fondness. I know that’s what a journal’s for, but it’s my blog and I’ll do whatever the fuck I want with it.
Anyway, what a whirlwind weekend! I pulled a 15 hour shift at the pub Thursday night, then left straight from there for O’Hare. I was there with plenty of time to spare, but I was exhausted, so I ended up passing out at the gate for a while. I jumped up right before they were ending boarding and closing the doors, and shuffled my way to the only window seat that had no windows.
The big guy spilling over into my seat didn’t stop me from passing out 30 seconds after buckling my seatbelt, but he woke me up maybe 30 minutes later to tell me we were all getting off the plane for some reason. I got off and succumbed to my love and constant want of cheese danishes and coffee. This combo is, in fact, the cure for all that ails you in life. Give me that COVID-19 – I’ll either cheese danish my way out of it or die happy trying (please don’t actually give me the corona virus – seems like it sucks).
Over 60 passengers either cancelled or changed their flights, so the plane was nearly empty after boarding round 2, and I got a whole row to myself (and the window seat had a window). At that point I was too amped from the sugar and caffeine to sleep, so I just read for the entirety of the flight. Given how tired I was, I’m not totally sure how much of that information I retained, but I know I stared lengthily at words on pages, so…
One short bus ride later and I was at the hotel. I ordered baby back ribs and a carne asada flat bread, both of which were awesome, and also consumed some low quality television. My plan was to read and maybe exercise, but exhaustion won the day and I fell asleep around 5pm. I woke up briefly at 9pm, answered some texts, then promptly returned to my slumber before waking up at 5am, just before my alarm.
After that much sleep I felt fully ready for some productivity. I stretched, listened to a podcast on wilderness therapy, lifted weights, and by the time the sun was up, got myself dressed and down to the complimentary breakfast. I made it to the campus just in time for a guided tour that was pretty short because it’s a pretty fuckin’ small building.
That let out in time for me to realize I had way too much caffeine, but “it’s okay because there’s a guided meditation that’ll help bring me back down” I told myself crackily (eye twitches were involved). It did actually help a lot. I made the intention of my meditation a sort of mindfulness and lovingkindness combo. On each inhale I said, “Love, compassion, understanding,” and on each exhale I said, “Anger, frustration, nervousness.” Then I turned it around so I was focusing my energy on the inhale, then releasing as much positivity to those around me as I could muster when I breathed out. Ultimately I was drained of all my angst at the end of the 30 minutes, and I was ready for the interview.
Honestly, I can’t recall too many specifics of the interview. It felt like it went by very quickly, and I had pretty readily available answers to all the questions. At some point the interviewer pointed out that we were running low on time and had another 4 questions to get to, so I promised to curtail my long-windedness (or at least reserve it for my blog). Toward the end I said, “Regardless of the outcome, I’m really happy to be here.”
“I’m really happy you’re here, too,” she said. So I think that part went well enough.
At lunch I ran into a few other Wilderness Therapy folks. They were pretty easy to pick out – turns out many of us are loud and outgoing and outdoorsy. We chatted over combinations of organic, locally-sourced buffet sandwiches (gluten free and vegan options were available, obvi), then made our way to the front of the building where we were to gather prior to our group interview. We piled into whatever cars were most convenient and headed to a nearby park filled with ponds filled with geese.
We were to find out about one person on our collective meandering journey to the center of the park, then introduce that person to the group. My dude was from Chicago (turns out he was even in my bar, possibly on the same night I was), and also had a sincere interest in becoming a psychedelic-assisted therapist down the line. The whole group was smiling (turns out we all liked being outside), easygoing, and immediately vulnerable and open even in spite of being in front of complete strangers.
Next we did a warm-up that involved arranging ourselves by length of the trip we took to get there, humidity of our favorite wilderness areas, and size of whatever organism most resonated with us. Then we paired off again, and thought of a question that we hoped to have answered by the end of the session (to some degree or another). Mine was, “What are you fuckin’ pumped about?”
Then one person closed their eyes, and was silently led around by the other person. The eyes-shut person was tapped on the shoulder when the guide positioned them in front of this bit of scenery or another. The intention was to answer my own question via the snapshot images provided to me by my guide. He showed me a pond with geese in it, the snow-covered mountains looming in the distance, a clear path leading off into the wilderness, and then he sat me down on a log, and we chilled there for a second looking out over the golden meadows of the park. I mean, damn, I was pumped about all that shit!
There were some portions after that that were supposed to be more structured, but we were all so excited to meet each other and chat, that we went off the rails a bit. Ah well. Hopefully that doesn’t completely drop us out of the running. “Sean displays a clear inability to focus and follow direction,” sounds like something I’d have seen more on my elementary school report cards than my hippie counseling psychology master’s app review.
Everyone was smiles at the beginning, and everyone was even bigger smiles at the end. A small group of us met for drinks afterward, ate some very healthy food, then kept the drinking going on into the evening. Fun fact: brown gravy is not an ideal whiskey chaser, but it’ll do. Another fun fact: three mushroom caps can really fuck with your mouth’s willingness to participate in a California Love karaoke routine. I called it an early night and was back at the hotel by midnight.
I called down to the front desk, “Hey, you happen to have any weed I can smoke?”
“Sure, man. Come on down, I got you,” said the clerk. I fucking love Boulder.
I woke up early the next day and lazed around until checkout. Then I took the bus to a weed shop, and walked from there to the trailhead of my planned hike for the day. Did I say that I loved Boulder? I do.
I filtered my hike search by distance and exclusively looked at “Hard” hikes. They were not fuckin’ around when they called this hike hard – it was basically a mile and a half of steep, rocky stairs. Also, it was snowing that morning. So you had to be a fairly hardcore hiker to be out on that trail at all, but still, I got SMOKED by six people on that hike. That whole “there’s less oxygen at high altitudes” shit is real. I was huffing and puffing and loving every minute of it. “I can’t wait until I can do this all the time. I’ll be passing up the out-of-towners like these folks in no time! *weeze* *cough* *weeze*”
Did the weed help with the breathing? Probably not, but it sure did put a little extra shine on the whole experience. I made it to the top and down to a lovely clearing where I hung out drinking a beer (pictured above) for a while before making my way down the rest of the mountain. Then I walked to an awesome burger place, had a couple local brews, and basked in the warm after glow of a physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually fulfilling weekend. Fuckin’ ‘ey was it sweet.
Here’s hoping I got in, but if not, I’ve got some pretty amazing adventures planned that can keep me riding that bliss wave. Either way, should kick some serious ass (but also I really hope I got in).