The American dream is dead. While still nestled in infancy, star-spangled hopes of anything resembling my parents’ life had pretty much vanished, and a strange subtext for what was to come silently gestated as I grew. The car, the house, and the child before age 30 were all near impossibilities for those of us who inherited the great recession. We were taught to dream small and assign great meaning to the tiny crevasses in which we were held, to play the game the way it’s always been played, though the rules have shifted greatly. Cultural milestones carved deep into society’s structure suddenly feel staggeringly out of reach for this generation of misfits, caught in the middle. So, what are we to do but erupt? To transform? To leap daringly into that which we can hold and experience with the limited resources we have been given? The new American dream will be forged not in matter, but in memory. A bleary-eyed tumble into the ephemeral nature of all things, seen through the lens of conscious nomadism.
A manual in 7 easy steps
In one of my grandest schemes to date, I decided to push several self-limits at once and hike the entirety of Malibu’s recently completed Backbone Trail System in only 3 days. For those of you who aren’t LA local, that’s 70 miles of peaks and valleys, traversing along the Santa Monica Mountains, just spitting distance from Los Angeles! It promised to be relatively waterless, 40 degrees at night, difficult to navigate, and illegal to camp on (technically). Oh, and the gods decided to grace me with a massive rainstorm in the middle of day two that left me sliding down the side of a mountain in the pitched black, hiking through multi-million dollar Malibu estates, and finally befriending a valet at a 4 star restaurant who let me charge my phone and call a ride home. Even with a TON of planning and back ups in case of things going wrong, the trek decided to take a left turn in a hilarious assortment of unexpected ways, leaving me to bail on night two and return to complete the last 24 miles of trail the following weekend. So, I felt it only fitting to write a how-to manual in reverse for what not to do on The Backbone Trail!