Ana K. Wrenn portrait



June 2, 2022

Pride Month always gets me thinking about the paths we take on our personal journeys. My own path has been meandering, probably like yours.

First, let’s take a short detour...

Recently, I finished Wendy Hudson’s The Island Between Us, and I loved it. Wendy knows how to write books about survival, loss, love, and, ultimately, finding a way back to living—and in more authentic ways.

As I read Wendy’s book, I kept flashing back to the time I got lost in the woods of Kentucky. I had been working at a girls’ camp, and on my days off, I’d solo-hike the forest, my only companion being the camp dog, a Golden Retriever that adopted me that summer. Most of the hiking trails were clearly blazed, and I could follow along without much thought.

One day, though, I found another kind of trail.

It was more rugged dirt-ribbon than trail, one crisscrossed with deer paths and frequently disappearing into dense undergrowth. My boots had hit the trailhead early in the morning, and there I was: a woman on a primitive path with a dog that followed me everywhere. At some point, I got terribly lost. Thankfully, the dog stayed with me, grounding me and keeping my creeping panic at bay. Hours into the hike I debated turning back and trying to retrace my steps. But that would get me back to camp after dark — or further lost.

Growing increasingly nervous, I pushed ahead.

Eventually, I came to the banks of a lake and hitched a ride with a local fisherman to a convenience store. And yes! I insisted that the camp dog be rescued with me. Once I got to the store, I waited to be picked up by my fellow camp counselors. Turns out that my eight-mile hike took me through the forest to a lake some 30 miles away (by road) from the camp.

That day, I both lost and found my way. It was a meandering, exhausting journey, one I now take pride in because it mirrors my life.

I don’t take clear paths; I don’t think I was born to.

Throughout the first part of my life, I wound between interests—career and love. Perhaps a bit cliché, I left a seemingly straighter path during that summer at camp when I fell for another woman, both of us nascent adults. Alas, while she and I shared some moments together (that will stay between us), she didn’t fall for me the way I did for her.

Again, I got lost.

Since that summer, I’ve repeatedly lost and found my way. I guess that’s why I’m drawn to Wendy Hudson’s characters and books. Now, I take pride in my meandering ways, and all this gets me thinking about Unwind, a song by Cheryl B. Engelhardt.

“I am not lost just because you can’t find me,” Cheryl sings.

I’ve walked many paths, and I have many more to come. Some will run straighter, and, delightfully, others will be lusher snaking routes that leave me sublimely dizzy.

Oh, but what a gloriously twisty journey it is! And I take Pride in that.


Ana K. Wrenn is a writer and professor who calls Southern Appalachia home. When she’s not writing, you can find her hiking in a forest, hanging on the deck with her two dogs, or snuggle-reading with her three cats. Fly over to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and to connect with her.