I had a dream last night about being a thruhiker. In my dream I was sitting at a shelter eating lunch, and tourists came by to look. I felt like I was a specimen at a zoo.
The thing about the dream is it was pretty true to life. Multiple times I've just been going about my business, being a backpacker, and people have come and stared like I was part of a diorama. They don't usually talk to me, though they do talk to each other.
What's up with that, do you think?
I mean, when I'm out there, whatever piece of the earth I'm sitting on is my home. So when you walk up to me and stare at my backpackerliness, you are effectively walking into my house. I have nowhere to retreat to, nowhere else to be. Where I am is where I am. It feels like an intrusion on my privacy.
And that's weird in itself. You don't *have* privacy on the trail. You don't own the place. You can't lock the door and wall other people out.
We all kind of rely on the invisible walls. The ones that keep us all from staring when we're changing clothing or scratching ourselves. However, the walls do not work on tourists. A tourist's whole job is to stare. And they don't give a rat's patootie if you feel like you are an exhibit or not.
Next time I think I'll wave and smile. And scratch myself.