The Catskills Diaries: Part Three

We’ve reached Day 3, the pinnacle of my solo trip in the Catskills. At this point, I was starting to feel “on my own” for the first time ever. It dawned on me that each decision I made was completely my own, with no “adult” to consult. There were times when I thought, “I NEED AN ADULT,” (such as, when I began to worry that I would pop a tire on one of the many dirt roads I encountered) but then came to realize that I was the only adult around.

This was a stark, and somber reckoning for me. I have always reveled in the guidance and safety of my mother’s presence. She was both my sounding board and my North Star. And, while I had admittedly spent the year leading up to her stroke reluctantly crawling out of my extended adolescence, I was far from ready to lose her support.

So, here they are: my impressions on being “on my own” for the first time, moving through the world as proper adult. Or something.

To catch up on the Catskills Diaries: Part One, click here. For Part Two, click here.


Day 3: Wednesday, October 2

Wednesday was relaxation day. I went into town and visited a shop called, maybe “Splunk.” Is that right? I’m not sure (Ed. Note: No, that was not right. It was actually “Plunk,” but NICE TRY two-glasses-of-wine-deep Chelsea). The shopkeeper was extremely friendly and helpful, and she talked my ear off about biking, and where to go in the area. I bought some things from her and walked around. The town, Livingston Manor, also had an organic shop, a pizza place, a grocery store, and a few other businesses. Plus a cute little park in the center of town on the river, where I ate lunch. 

It was a nice town, but lots of stuff was closed. Apparently many of the shops and attractions close in the Catskills during the week, especially on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, after the weekend tourists leave. Their weekend is essentially Tuesday/Wednesday. I find this to be a very interesting mountain town phenomenon. 

Livingston Manor’s town motto is “Small Town, Big Backyard.” Which is both adorable and TRUE. I cannot believe how much of the land is “for the people” here. The streams, the mountains, the parks, the forrest — so much is public land. There is signage everywhere indicating what is for public use and what is private. 

It’s really nice being somewhere like this, where the people have ownership of the resources around them. And they use them! It’s so different from the city, where resources are vastly limited and there is nowhere to be alone except your own room, if you’re lucky. 

I hung around for awhile and got some things at Main Street Farm (the organic market) for dinner and headed back. It was kind of muggy out and I just wanted to enjoy the cabin. I made myself a nice dinner, and put together a playlist of songs that inspire me, move me and make me dance. I turned it up, and just had myself a party! 


Did I mention the view from my cabin?

I stargazed, played my banjo, wrote, snacked, hookahed, cried, danced, failed at building a fire, and just felt. Yes, I let myself feel it all. I let the beauty of the mountains, my loss, my fear, my happiness, my overwhelming love for Dave, and my giant heart bursting with so much more take over and just listened to myself. 

It was. I don’t know. It was so lovely. One of the best, most life-affirming nights of my entire life. Like, this is it. This is what you get — this place exists in the world, and you can just go here alone when everything feels wrong and feel right again. 

Hiking up a mountain can bring you back to life.

Stargazing can remind you it’s still ok to dream. 

Smoke leaving your lips can give you just the right high to let your guard down and dance alone. 

The leaves changing can keep you mindful of the changing seasons, which like life, evolve in phases — constantly metamorphosing and overlapping; turning.

And fear can make you reverent to all that is around you and wake your dulled senses. 

I learned so much that I cannot even say. I am alive again. There is hope. I will be ok. I will create again and I will feel drive again. This deep sadness is temporary. There will always be adventure and inspiration to be found — I just have to remember to let it in. 

The rest feels insignificant. It all culminated like I hoped it would. I thought I would cry my eyes out, and then some (Ed. Note: That did come, days later) but instead, I basically danced around and did whatever I wanted to do. I felt free. And in a life of debt, and obligation, and responsibility, and loss . . .

I found freedom in a cabin two hours north of biggest metropolis in the United States, dancing around in my sweatpants like a teenager. 

Sigh. I’m gonna make it after all.