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In college, I met this lawyer guy. I asked him if I should take time off before attending law school. I don’t remember much of anything I learned in college, but I remember the answer to this question: “Picture yourself in, let’s say, a contracts class in law school. Are you looking at the professor or are you staring out the window?”
I planned a trip to Europe the very next day.
When I graduated from college, I crammed 5 years of livin’ into 8 months of freedom. I knew that I wanted to go to law school, and I didn’t want to put it off, but I also didn’t want to spend 3 years and $100,000 to stare out the window.
So I took that advice to heart and dreamed like I was livin’ forever, and lived like I was dying tomorrow. I went to Europe. I led canoeing trips in the Everglades for delinquent kids. I danced at music festivals. I built homes for Hurricane Katrina victims and watched Barbara Streisand movies while couch surfing in Fairhope, Alabama. I dyed my hair purple. I lived out of my car. I hugged my dog.
And I didn’t stop there. How could I??? I had too many dreams!!! So I kept goin’ — I traveled with my brother, with friends; hell, I traveled alone. I led a trail maintenance crew in Maine, I meditated in Sicily, I painted orange trees on an Italian organic farm and worked on a vineyard in the south of France. Shit I even slept on the floor of a cargo boat just so I could watch the sunset from Santorini.
And when law school orientation came around, I thought I was ready. Ready to be an adult. Ready to be serious. Ready to give back to a world that has given me so much joy.
And then I got to window dreamin’ again.
And I realized somethin’.
I DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE. We don’t have to choose. I love the field of law, and I’m excited to have a career, but window dreamin’ is a part of who I am. And no matter how many times I, a teacher, or someone I know, tries to kick that from my system, it will always be a part of me.
And so I dreamed a new dream. And 3 years later I was standing on top of Katahdin.
Now that I’m back home, I’ve got commitments and responsibilities like everyone else—commitments towards my friends, family, job, and creditors—but I’m still me. I’m still the girl who painted orange trees and slept on the floor of a cargo boat. And while this may be a sign that I’m finally grown up, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop being me.
A month and a half after summiting “Big K”, I find myself on a plane headed to Florida on business. Starin’ out the window of aisle 18. Smiling. It’s time to dream a new dream.
In 2010, Kate “Ringleader” Imp thru-hiked the A.T. with her brother Brandon “Monkey” Imp and best friend Emily “Lightning” Ginger. Together the members of the “Traveling Circus” captured the peaks and valleys of trail life in a documentary called Beauty Beneath the Dirt. You can check out the film ( as well as their blog) at www.beautybeneaththedirt.com.
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