This is right where I’m supposed to be

Today I woke up to a couple of raccoons squabbling over Nathaniel’s protein bars. Let me just say, from inside the tent at four in the morning, we thought we were in the company of grizzly bears. Nathaniel, being the wilderness junkie that he is, of course crawled out of the tent with a flashlight to see what was happening. Just another one of the many things I love about this man, his curiosity. He makes me question things in ways that open my mind up to so many new possibilities. It’s no longer saying, “Oh I would love to go there someday” but instead “Where are we going next?”. It is like seeing a life that you never thought was possible. I want to see the world with you, babe ❤

Being here in Starved Rock State Park has me oddly homesick. Sometimes I forget that my back yard is actually this beautiful, too. I think it’s harder for me now because I almost have a sense of PTSD being there. It’s my favorite place to be in the world, but it feels like I’m stuck in a nightmare sometimes. I’m not sure that I could go on a hike alone, something I used to do often enough to not think twice about it. Now just the thought of it is almost terrifying. It’s hard to explain, not to mention its something I have never really talked about publicly. I have lived in Gatlinburg all my life, it has and always will be home. But since the fire it has been hard, everything has been harder actually. Driving home on the spur two days ago I found myself in tears. Something about seeing the scorched trees, burnt grass, the dead vegetation … it tore me up. I almost felt panicked. I needed to get out, I felt trapped. Like that night. Trapped in a burning city. Trapped in my home as it burned to the ground. Getting a call as I approached the front door saying “Get out now. Our mountain is on fire.”  What about my life? What about my house? Was I just supposed to leave my 22 years of memories behind like they meant nothing? It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. To walk out of my burning home with one bag and my life and leaving everything else behind. It truly was something I just wasn’t prepared for. How could you be? I can’t quite put it into words, but I really do see life so differently. I’m realizing that the things I lost were only possessions. However important they were to me, I still hold onto those memories, because I still hold onto my life.  I want to do nothing but live the life that fate has blessed me to keep over, and over, and over.

Waking up in the middle of nowhere, in the arms of the man I love. No worries. No problems. Nothing but happiness …. and some hungry raccoons!

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