As a pilgrim you are never quite sure what world you are in. You left behind the life you lived before, and it is done with; you are in a strange time, a time when all you have to do is walk. Dates become meaningless; a day is merely the passing of the sun from one hand to the other, from behind you to in front of you. A pilgrim has given up reading the papers; a pilgrim has given up doing work; a pilgrim is just one big foot marching from one place to another, one great yearning for the end.
There's a strange sort of feel to a pilgrimage. Although you are living entirely in the present, it's not the present that matters; what matters is the distant goal, even the distance itself. My goal was to reach the Chartres, Reims, and Notre Dame cathedrals. I lived near the sea in a city called Poitiers, which was relatively far from this destination.
It would take several weeks, if not months to complete this journey. Some of my friends had already been on pilgrimages, or religious journeys, but this would be my first. I wasn't looking forward to the walking, but reaching the cathedrals, and seeing them for myself. I had heard a lot about the newly built cathedrals, and how enormous they were; I could hardly wait to see them.
I was going on this trip with my mom, dad, and younger brother, Sean. We, as a family, were going with a larger group of people who took this trip every year. It had taken us a long time to prepare and pack all the things we needed. Before we left, my parents told Sean and I this pilgrimage would be a way for us to show our...