Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found

13 Mar

Before I came away travelling I was working (for free, very sensible given my dire need for finances at the time) as an intern at the New Statesman magazine. I did bits for lots of different departments including the culture desk where I was asked to transcribe an interview. The interview was with an author, Cheryl Strayed, about her book Wild and it was really interesting (to the point that at times I got so engrossed that I forgot I was actually meant to be transcribing and not just listening). When I told him how interesting she sounded, the culture editor gave me the book to read myself, which has travelled with me all the way to Australia, and I just recently finished it a couple of days ago.

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The book is a memoir of Strayed hiking the Pacific Crest Trail solo in 1995, after her mother died and she developed a dangerous penchant for adultery and heroin. The trail in its entirety spans the West coast of America from Mexico right up to Canada, but she only walked part of it: 1,100 miles (not to be sniffed at) from the Mojave desert through California, Oregon and Washington states, ending at the Bridge of Gods. The book is brilliant; funny and poignant in places. It’s been ages since I’ve actually stuck with one all the way through but I became so involved in this woman’s life that I couldn’t put it down. I got so engrossed that sometimes I catch myself thinking I can relate to Cheryl herself; my journey is very different to hers (mine’s more sun, sand and sightseeing; less blisters, dehydration and outright fear). But still, i’m sure the way I felt last night eating a chocolate malteser bunny that Lucia’s mum sent us from England was sort of comparable to the relief that Cheryl must have felt drinking a bottle of Snapple lemonade after only having been able to drink dirty lake water for miles. Sort of.

I intended to read the book and then do the sensible backpacker thing of leaving it in a hostel somewhere for somebody else to enjoy, but for some reason I have decided not to do that. It’s a book I can imagine enjoying just as much if not more when I read it again so instead I will lug the thing (all 336 pages of it) across the length of Australia’s east coast with me.

As far as I could tell from the interview, it’s being made into a film with the screenplay being done by Nick Hornby (of About A Boy) and I think Reese Witherspoon will play Cheryl. So read it! It’s a great one, even if it puts me to shame a bit that I’m not sure I could ever muster up the determination to do even a fraction of what she did. But then I guess I don’t have a heroin addiction to battle or a husband to cheat on. I have added the Pacific Crest Trail onto my bucket list now (maybe just a day’s worth though, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves).

In other news, I handed in my notice at work today. So I’ll be leaving Melbourne on the 23rd to do the Great Ocean Road with Lucia, Mel, Alex and Laura, and after that we’ll be off to Sydney and heading up the east coast! And we have the Grand Prix this weekend and St Paddy’s day, so I’m hoping it will be a good last weekend in Melbourne!

Cat xxx

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