The 5000m mistake

Trying to go back to base camp was a mistake. I realised this pretty quickly, even before things turned to shit and I was medically evacuated. Without meaning to, I was trying to recreate my past. I was trying to duplicate an experience and a version of me from five years ago. It was doomed from the outset.

From almost the moment we landed, I was remembering and comparing rather than just experiencing it for what it was. I think even if I had stuck to my original plan of trekking to Annapurna Base Camp, I may have encountered elements of this. The tour company was the same, the city tour the day before the hike began was the same. But, I was not the same and my situation in life is not the same.

Because I had “done it before”, the women in our group looked to me for advice, for answers, for what to expect next. Sometimes things were different, not that my memory had failed but things had moved on and advanced. Sometimes, my memory of the day’s trekking just clouded my experience as a whole.

I knew every shitty ascent that was coming hours and days before we arrived at its start. I pre-empted the struggle in my head. This strangely didn’t make it easier for me but harder. I found the trek less enjoyable overall. The wows didn’t wow me as much. The awe and the scenery didn’t take my breath away more than the altitude. The cold was colder, harder, more difficult to adjust to.

I felt like giving up more. I struggled more. The breathlessness hit me sooner, the exhaustion destroyed me. I remembered all these things from last time but this time I couldn’t explain to myself why I was there. I couldn’t talk myself through it. I couldn’t find the deep motivation for putting my body through such misery.

When altitude sickness started to whip me, it was almost – almost – a relief. My head hadn’t been in it from the start and now my body had caught up.

My headspace going into this trip was wrong, all wrong. There had been too much change right before I left – I quit my job and my relationship had ended and I knew that everything I was coming back to after the trip would be different. I needed, craved “something” that would show me this was the right path – an amazing, new and crazy adventure. What I got, what I inadvertently signed up for, was essentially a duplicate of my trip five years ago. This wasn’t new or exciting or adventurous. I felt like a fraud. I knew I shouldn’t have been there.

It’s my own fault of course. I had booked Annapurna and that’s what I should have done. My friend could still have done EBC and I could have done ABC and we could have met back in Kathmandu. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

Now I’m home and I start my new gig on Tuesday. I am excited about that but I don’t feel rested or refreshed. I don’t feel like I just had three weeks off. I feel kinda stupid.

While I was away, AJ worked hard to win me back. He maintained my house and yard, planted a new garden, watered my plants, brought in the mail, and sprayed for bugs and weeds. He messaged me every day and for a little while, I thought I might have been in a place where the lies didn’t matter. Being choppered off a mountain gives you a new perspective on a few things.

But it was a false sense of security. The cracks began to appear almost straight away when I returned. Little details that didn’t stack up, little inconsistencies between what I’d been told and what he then purported as truth.

Yesterday I told him it wasn’t going to ever work out. The distrust was pervading. I didn’t want to be with someone where I questioned every statement and searched for omissions. It was exhausting. I think he finally sees it from my perspective. We don’t value honesty in the same way. Little things, little deceits he tells me are not important I do find important and while ever we view these things differently, it won’t work.

I was sad last night, sadder than I was the first time. I’m not sure why. Maybe because part of me wanted to be that person who forgives, and who forgets. Maybe I wanted just a tiny portion of that sense of optimism and positivity that clouds his every day decision-making.

Turns out, that’s not me, even after struggling to breathe at 5000m.

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