What's the cost?
"You look like you've lived a lot", she said.
We were around 2500m above sea level, and it was day 3 up in the Andorran Pyrenees.
I started off this journey by myself (which, and this is relevant, is also how I'd end up finishing it), but since day 2 I'd been hiking with 3 others - a Brazilian guy, who was clearly the oldest of all of us, and 2 girls from the Basque Country, who, by my estimates, were somewhat the same age as me.
Having walked together for about a day and a half at this point, the topic of age finally came up.
I approached it like I always do - "How old am I? How old do you think I am?"
And that's when I got that answer back. "You look like you've lived a lot. You must be older than us."
I made a joke about her calling me old, but she corrected herself: "I mean you've had a lot of experiences, you can't be too young."
Indeed, for the number of times I've completed a lap around the sun, I've had quite a few adventures that make for a good story over dinner.
I certainly think I've done enough to fill a few bucket lists' worth of things people hope to do over their entire lifetime.
But I'm not here to brag. On the contrary, I'm here to vent.
Today I'm here to talk about the price of it all, for no reason other than I feel I need to. I haven't picked up the pen (or rather, the keyboard) for quite a while now, and this is like therapy to me.
Back from the mountains, me and the girls met up for dinner, and the topic came up again. I talked about my life and what it's taken me to "live a lot" as they nodded in between "I knew it" glances targeted at each other.
They had figured it out. Among all the debts I've accumulated, there's a clear winner: loneliness.
And as much as I've told myself I've accepted it, just typing that word out took me a moment.
The sounds around me are fitting. Two clocks, slightly out of sync with each other, and some indistinguishable conversation coming from the upstairs TV. They are the sounds of my life.
The ears ring to make up for the silence.
The phone doesn't buzz.
The wind is loud.
And I ask myself: was it worth it?