I'm lying next to the crackling fire with points of bright starlight shining through a high canopy of leafless branches. Unlike the last few weeks, it's a warm night. I'm not bundled up in thermals, gloves, or a sock hat. Nor am I sunken into a sleeping bag pulled up and cinched over my head. I don't even have hand warmers tucked into my socks. Instead, I'm on my back with my sleeping bag unzipped and opened above my waist.
These combined elements have put me in a ridiculously good mood. In fact, you wouldn't be wrong in using the word, giddy. I feel so lucky to be right here, right now.
Later that night, I dreamed a familiar dream. One similar to others I've had since I left for this trip. One where I'm back home going through the old mundane routine of my pre-hike life. The events in the dreams are never the same, but the feeling is. I feel completely out of place and desperate to get back to the trail. I wake up the same way each time. I look around at the outdoors and realize I'm still on the AT, then with a satisfied grin on my face, I go back to sleep.
In all honesty, that feeling of being out of place wasn't an uncommon one before leaving for the hike, but now there is an important difference. For the first time in my life, my old dream has become my reality and my old reality is just a dream.