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5. The Story Behind Meeting Her Husband


At the end of the trail, I got to Portland and I had 20 cents. A friend of a friend was having a yard sale, and he said, "Hey, you can sell your stuff if you need to raise some money." So I took my CDs and books and clothes out of storage and put them up for sale. Pretty soon, this incredibly handsome man comes riding up on his bicycle. I immediately throw myself at him. I start flirting like crazy, and he buys my pencil sharpener in the shape of an airplane. As we're chatting, I somehow end up telling him, "I just finished hiking the PCT."

He asks, "Are you Cheryl?" He knew my friend who had sent me all the boxes along the trail. He'd been hearing stories about me all summer. Then he said: "I'm going out to dinner tonight with my friend Brian. Why don't you join us?" So my friend Lisa and I showed up at this Tex-Mex place called Esparza's, and my new handsome pal from the yard sale walks in...with Brian, who was more handsome (to me). The handsomest man on the planet.

6. The Mistake She Never Made Again


Brian and I spent a few months dancing around about how we felt, and then we slept together. I woke up the next morning and said to him: "You know what? I'm done with this time in my life. I don't want to do this anymore." I'd taken a step backward, and I had to pull myself out of it really fast because it made me feel so bad about myself.

I asked him if we could be friends, and we did become friends—but then we fell madly in love with each other. Oddly enough, Brian was the last person I regret having slept with. When we decided not to continue the sexual side of things, he was also at the same moment in his life. He'd been really promiscuous as well, and we both thought, "No more. We're going to change that part of our lives." So we did that together.

7. The Wildest Thing That's Happened Since the Book Came Out


I was doing a reading in St. Paul, Minnesota, and I read a section that included a reference to the POW/MIA bracelet I wore on the trail that belonged to William J. Crockett. When I got back to the hotel, a woman who had been sitting in the audience emailed me. "Oh my gosh," she said, "my co-worker is William J. Crockett's sister." So the sister and I got in touch. She told me about William's death and how important he was to her. She said, "I haven't read the book, but I take it that his name on your bracelet offered you some sort of encouragement and strength, and I'm so glad to hear that."

Wild was chosen as the first selection in Oprah's Book Club 2.0 in 2012.

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