Despite how often I make fun of the frequency with which I seem to get lost, it has always been one of my most paralyzing fears. Some days, when I’m only slightly turned around, it’s just a shiver I can laugh off (or blog about later). Other times, when I’m late to an appointment or at the end of a long day, it’s a frustrating anxiety that clouds my ability to process thoughts and emotions clearly (it is, unfortunately, pretty easy to tell when I’m having one of those days).
And then some days, like the one three weeks ago, it is sinister figure who chokes the breath from my lungs and punches tears into my eyes. The encounter leaves me weak and weary, and even as I see the safety of friends or familiar places, I feel smaller and more fragile.
The day was cloudy and our team of roughly 40 American and Czech young people was making its way down steep slopes and windy mountain-town streets. We were on our way to the bus that would take us home after a long week of hiking through the forest glades and quaint villages of Krkonoše, the tallest mountain range in the Czech Republic.