Amanda had difficulty picking out her gear for the camino. It was the most money she had spent on clothes in few years, maybe ever. The bright colors and shinny materials were largely what she tended to avoid both in fashion and in personality. She had grown out of her goth phase, but steered towards a black backpack and black merino wool. This was less a relapse into her Marylin Manson days, and more of an attempt to match her black-framed eye glasses, an accessory acquired during college after she took up rolling her own cigarettes and reading Ginsberg and Kerouac. She humbled herself in the imagined situations she played out in her mind against hypothetcial conditions in which a certain article of clothing would be more appropriate for the trip. There was death: what do I want to be wearing when my parents identify me? There was love: what outfit will he remember me wearing when we first met? And there was hate: who do I not want to be. Amanda went with a black merino hiking skirt over the black northface pants that zip off into shorts.
Amanda grew up in Conneticut. Her parents were both professionals, serious ones -a doctor and a lawyer, who lived modestly and with utter discipline; they only purchased used cars with cash in hand, and bought clothes at the mall´s end-of-season sales to wear the following year. Amanda was a rebellious teen in that she wore dark clothing and eye-liner, joined the theater club instead of the volleyball team, and said nothing at the dinner table. For this she had to go to therapy, and soon after her problems really began -first the cutting, then the bottle of asprin, the tatoos, the piercings, the abusive boyfriends, and finally the heroin. Rehab came next which was easy for Amanda because she got to move out of her house and upon completion of the program she was off to college.
Amanda studied psychology at a private liberal arts school, mainly to unpack the last five years of her life -that, and it was a profession her parents wouldn´t object to, thus keeping their involvement to a minimum. She found that she wasn´t alone, most of her classmates were also seeking to read their owner´s manual. Those who were there to really become psychologists were, according to Amanda, of little promise to actually solving anyone´s psychologcial problems because they just didn´t get it. She felt that truly wanting to end your own life is an experience only to be lived rather known through textbooks in the same way that eating a bunch of acid qualifies someone to use the word ´trippy´much more precisely than a bong-hitting frat boy can after watching Inception.
"Help yourself to a shell" the gentleman at the Pilgrim´s office instructed.
"Okay." Amanda said, walking over to a basket full scallop shells. It reminded her of something that would be on display in a bathroom after a suburban family´s trip to florida. She took a pink-ish colored shell, and with the provided string and pre-drilled hole tied it to her black backpack.
After the first climb Amanda began to doubt if she could really do this. It was only 2k into the 800k walk and it felt punishing. I could die doing this, she thought to herself, and that would be a good way to die, better than eating that stupid bottle of asprin, god that was such a typical cry for help.
"Buen Camino" a passing pilgrim said to her.
"Buen Camino" Amanda replied, finding comfort in the simplicity of the exchange. Amanda was walking, for no reason, and saying things like ´Buen Camino´for no reason either. And this felt good.