My transformation was slow at first: an untucked shirt or hightop sneakers instead of loafers. Then my attitude came cascading down, with dirty jeans and unkept hair, skipped classes and a ripped duffel sack replacing the faux-leather briefcase Father gave me on my seventeenth birthday. It was complete soon after when I dropped out of college and off my parents’ radar, hitch hiking to California for my twentieth birthday. Along the way I stayed with a few of farmers’ daughters, and when I got there I broke a few hearts. I became my own man.
A year later, on my twenty first birthday, I summited my first peak. A month later I had finished three more, and by the end of the year I was living in Seattle, where I was finishing off the last of the thirty tallest peaks on the west coast, including trips through Mexico’s Sierra Madres and up Mount Denali in Alaska. At the end of that adventure I was hired by a company to lead tourists around the world, and that went went well for the next four years. Then I got word that Father died, and I gave it all up to move back to New York.