This is probably as good a time as any to admit that I am just not a Camping Person. I used to be, in fact I was quite the outdoorsy tomboy in my day, spending most of my childhood up a tree or in a mudhole, but now, it seems, I am most emphatically Not. This week we took the kids to the mountains for a couple nights, and I was forcibly cheery about the whole thing, probably more for my sake than theirs.
We arrived at our campsite in late afternoon, which, some of you may know, is not ideal. We pitched the tent and I cooked dinner (so proud of myself for surviving the many propane explosions required to get the campstove working properly) as dusk fell and the children whined, and then did the washing up by lantern light, pleased I’d packed both a basin and a sponge. And a lantern. I tried not to think about the bear I’d seen ransacking another site just a few hundred yards away, stowed everything edible in the anti-ursine locker, tucked the children into their sleeping bags, and sat by the fire taking victorious sips of Successful Camping Grownup Beverage out of the cunning little plexi wineglasses my husband had procured. I had dirty feet and ashes stuck to my teeth but by golly I was camping up a storm!
It wasn’t until my pre-bed visit to the bathroom that things got ugly. As I stood contemplating the two stalls, one’s seat smeared with excrement and the other coiffed in a nest-like arrangement of shredded toilet tissue, wondering if this is how raccoons recreated, I felt something soft and almost sticky patter across my foot. Looking down (which required a certain degree of mental coaxing) I saw a centipede languidly wriggling across my flip-flopped foot, pausing briefly on my third toe before I gave a mighty yelp and punted it into the wall. I can put up with putrid restrooms, and large clawed mammals, and dirty marshmallowy children farting sonorously in the tent, but I cannot abide centipedes. Actually, I abhor centipedes. I died a little inside, then did my reluctant business and marched by feathery moonlight back to our tent where I proceeded to remain awake all night, listening to the ominous rustlings of field mice and beetles, shuddering anew at each remembrance of The Thing With One Hundred Feet.
The next day I’d recovered somewhat — hurrah for the Coleman stove, the teakettle, the French Press, and Peet’s — and we had a lovely hike and then several hours on the rocky shore of an alpine lake. The children splashed and collected rocks and I read Alexa’s book and my husband captured it all (including my extra chin! who knew?) brilliantly in living pixel.
Speaking of Alexa’s book, I’d intended to save it for our upcoming fancy getaway, but once acquired (but acquired only after I’d met her, o how I still rue my horrible lapse in consumerist joy) I could not put it down. Now I realize the un-put-downableness of any given book is a terrible cliché, but must insist that in this case? It is more than true, it’s like, PLATO-TRUE. Her story is wrenching, but her gallows humor is wicked funny, and it was personally vindicating to see how hypochondriac neurotic tendencies actually come in handy sometimes. I adore her quirky vocabulary and her tapdancy delivery, but the best part was knowing that when the book came to an end, I could continue following the story on her blog. With pictures, even.
And speaking of fancy getaways, oh how tomorrow cannot arrive quickly enough! For a while there we almost canceled it altogether, what with the expense and the joblessness and all. But then a polite conversation evolved into a pretty serious calling of spades, and we decided to forge ahead, to reward ourselves for sticking out ten years together and possibly stake a claim on another decade. Divorce or inDulge, that’s our motto!
I’m looking forward to crisp white sheets and the noticeable absence of children. My idea of a proper vacation is to situate myself lounge-like in a peaceful locale, a stack of books to one hand and a refreshing cocktail to the other, for hours at a stretch. Of course my husband will want to DO things, and, you know, do THINGS. I will, in my relentless optimism, bring several kilos of reading material, but it remains to be seen how much will be actually consumed and how much merely lugged home again, untouched.
At least there won’t be centipedes!
(Yeah, famous last words, I know.)