I am a good camper. Just ask anyone. OK, don't ask anyone. Probably it's best not to ask anyone other than me. Probably it's best just to look at the results which are basic. Here they are:
- I pack a car with fairly bare essentials. On all but one occassion I remembered the tent poles.
- I come out the other end in one piece with a smile on my face.
- There are no outstanding arrest warrants. That you know of.
Is that not enough? OK, also, the car is still running and there are no obvious holes in the tent, the gear is all in good working order and it's also all present and accounted for. Also, I have left nothing behind and you can count on the fact that I've left wherever I went better than I found it. Fair enough? OK good.
I am a good camper.
It is possible that I am not suited to camp with other people. Or, it is possible that I am not suited to camp with adults. Elizabeth and I did just fine for some reason. I'm not sure why. Maybe because she ignores me or maybe because first light wakes her same way it wakes me. Oh hell, I don't know.
Also, there's the issue of the tent poles. But we fixed that and I never once believed it couldn't be done either. I want that noted. Not once. Not ever and I never gave up but it was without a doubt 100% my fault. About the tent poles.
I am an introvert. What do introverts like to do? Introverts like to go off and be by themselves. Why is this? It's not what you think. You think it's because of what all those stupid books tell you. All the stupid books tell you it's because we can't stand being around people because you all wear us the hell out. Well that's true, you do wear us the hell out but it's not because you're standing around breathing it's because you make noise and stuff and want to do things, things we usually don't want to do. Things that aren't already on my agenda. It would be selfish of me to try to force my agenda on you and I would really not like to do that so I try to get along by going along and THAT is what wears my ass out. See? It's not you. It's your agenda. No. That's not right. It's my agenda. Something like that. Discord. Natural discord.
Peace. I'm looking for peace. Peace and my own natural rhythm.
At night I like to crawl into my tent after I sit in front of the fire for a little while but not too long because there isn't any company (what would I be doing with company? OK, if I had company, I would probably sit out there longer and enjoy it a lot too because I could leave whenever I wanted and we could share a bottle of wine and have a fine evening under the stars and I could go to bed whenever I wanted). Then I would go into my tent and I would hang my lantern in the middle of my tent and I would get in my sleeping bag and I would NOT have brushed my teeth because I would have done that in the morning but I would have remembered to pee. Hey, this is my stuff, ok? And then I would read a book for awhile until I was good and sleepy and they I would turn the lantern off and I would roll over and listen to the night noises and I would drift off with a smile on my face unless ET from next door was collecting kindling right outside my tent in which case I'd have to get up and have a word with her. But let's assume that didn't happen.
And in the morning at first light my eyes would open and I would smile and I would look at my phone and depending on where I was in the world it might be freaking 3 AM. That would be a problem.
I'll get to that.
If it wasn't 3 AM and if it was maybe 5 AM I might be able to talk myself back to sleep until 5:45 but then I would get up and make cowboy coffee and drink a lot of it outside and be goddamn happy about it too. I'd be grinning like a polecat (I've never seen a polecat grin, by the way, but I hear they do and it's because they've been up to something).
And life goes on like this and it's pretty simple and if I'm waiting for my daughter to come out of that tent I wait awhile and if I'm not then eventually I make some breakfast when I'm hungry and we or I get on with the day and life is pretty damn good. For an introvert because, you see, this is my agenda and I'm not having to contend with being anybody else's pain in the ass because that's what it comes down to. I think.
Here is what happens if you are camping with me and you are not my accommodating 11 year old who still got up at the crack of dawn herself. Here is what happens when you are camping in a part of the hemisphere where the sun tends to show itself at approximately 3 AM and it is wet and cold where you happen to have pitched your tent AND there were no tent poles AND you have propped your tent up with bicycle wheels, a guitar case, a couple of full canvas bags and then tied it off to some trees and a picnic table but the fly is full of moisture because the dew point was 1000%, being 2 feet off the sound, and the whole thing is starting to sag and this guy you're with can and will sleep through anything if he has to because the guy NEEDS HIS SLEEP.
Me: Hey, it's light out.
Him: So what.
Me: Is it time to get up yet?
Him: No. go back to sleep.
Me: When will it be time to get up yet?
Him: Let me look at the phone. Where's the phone?
Him: For gods sake, Alecto, It's 3 AM
Me: That's not possible, let me see.
Him: Here, you hold the phone and don't talk to me until it's a reasonable hour.
Me: What's reasonable?
Me: What?! I can't possibly lay here for 4 hours.
Him: I HAVE TO SLEEP.
Me: (2 hours later) Is it time yet?
Him: Is it 7?
Him: Go away then.
Me: But I'm cold.
Him: Then put on some long underwear.
Me: I'm too cold.
Him: grumble... Come here, I'll help you.
Me: I don't want to, I'm too cold.
Him: Come. Over. Here. Now.
struggle, struggle, struggle, profanity....
Me: grumble... yes.
Him: Go back to sleep.
Me: But our crash pads are all split apart
Him: OK, here, I'll fix them.
Me: Thank you.
Him: Go to sleep now.
Him: I'm putting my earplugs back in...
Him: What did you say?
Me: I SAID OK
Him: Good night, dear.
Eventually I got out of the tent pouring about a gallon of water down my back in the process. He'll thank me for that later, I'm sure of it. We were camped a place where the sites were marked off by the most amazing hedgerows. Somebody sure was exercising an awful lot of creativity. It was beautiful too. I went for a walk in my Toms, which are thin rubber soled canvas shoes made for not much of anything and they were instantly saturated but that was better than barefoot I guess. It didn't take long before I discovered the blackberries. Big, juicy, ripe, elongated wild berries, second and final picking but enough to eat if you were willing to take your time along the path and pull back the canes careful and quiet and not wake the neighbors who don't always wake at first light either. I ate a lot of them but I pocketed quite a few.
After awhile I went out to the dock where I could get a signal and I realized it was Cletus's birthday and I should send her a text before we crossed the border into Canada and I could not do so reasonably and I opened my facebook app and I read this:
If I gave you everything that I owned
And asked for nothing in return
Would you do the same for me as I would for you?
Or take me for a ride
And strip me of everything, including my pride
But spirit is something that no one destroys
And the sound that I'm hearing is only the sound
The low spark of high-heeled boys (heeled boys)
And I knew my friend's daughter was either dead or about to be after a long final summer and he'd just laid it all out there and there was no way I could post Happy Birthday Cletus on Facebook since Cletus was his daughter's name too and they were about the same age and I just couldn't do it.
So I stood on the dock and cried for him a bit and then I wandered back up the path to the site and emptied my pockets onto the cutting board left out on the picnic table from last night's supper of cheese and spinach wraps. Or something like that.
I took my shoes off at the tent and poured out the water. They were pretty impressive. I wasn't sure what I was going to wear the rest of the day because I had those, flip flops maybe and hiking boots. My feet were waterlogged. I crawled into the tent wondering, like Alice, how the hell anyone got in and out of this rabbit hole in the first place. He was still sleeping. I wondered if he was pretending not to hear me. I crawled up close behind him and whispered...
it's definitely time to get up. I walked ALL over and my feet got SOOOOO wet and I went to the docks and the bathroom and I'm wet and cold and I peed but I didn't brush my teeth cause my stuff is in the car and I didn't think to get it but I got you a present so you kinda have to get up now.
I'm pretty sure he was smiling when he rolled over.
I don't remember if he found them on his own or if I couldn't contain myself and pointed them out.
But here's the thing. It wasn't me being unhappy in all this. Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? It is first light? Why aren't you up? I am up? I don't know that anyone was unhappy at all.
I'm just sayin', fair warning, that's all. Why you should not camp with me.
On the other hand. I do come bearing gifts. And I'm cheerful about it and stuff.