Don’t be confused.
The minute I get one of those Patagonia catalogs with somebody striking a yoga pose atop Machu Picchu, I don’t think twice. I don’t flip through the pages longingly. I don’t even hesitate.
I toss it straight in the trash without a backwards glance at their wide array of sports bras.
My soul does not yearn for adventure. Or exertion. Or tick-borne illnesses. Or going more than 24 hours without God’s gift of showering.
But I just spent the weekend in a tent with my family.
And you know what? I just might do it again.
Oddly enough, all that fresh air and togetherness (I can’t believe I’m saying this) was GOOD FOR US.
The only screen was the fire, which everyone stared at like it was Facebook.
The only chores were the half-assed kind of dishwashing that happens with cold water and our new laissez-faire camping attitude.
The only to-do items involved very little adult participation, such as capturing every imaginable species of moth that gravitated toward our lantern and/or the bathroom stalls or creating a mud puddle island retreat for a new lizard friend.
It wasn’t Norman Rockwell idyllic. Nothing ever is, really. There was a lot of swearing and snapping as my husband and I fumbled to recall how the heck to pitch this god-forsaken tent. IN THE DARK.
There was feverish swatting at whatever Deep Woods Off wouldn’t ward off.
There was zero sleep when our nightmare-plagued girl shoehorned her way onto our narrow, sinking air mattress. (We do NOT sleep on the ground, people. What are we, savages??)
There was a huge bug bite on my husband’s arm that got all swollen and angry, much like the spider with bloody fangs that caused it while attempting to kill us in our sleep.
Then there was the time I grabbed at a teetering lantern and burned my fingertips to a bacony crisp. (This was essentially my first act of camping — eradicating my fingerprints.)
But I am choosing to look at it this way: Just as the nacho chip is the ho-hum vehicle for enjoying the awesomeness of queso, the tent shall be our cheap vehicle for finding awesomeness together.
This weekend, that tent was our cleanliness-challenged jumping off point for seeing the Berkshires (where I’d never been), taking in a whole bunch of Van Goghs at a fancy-pants art museum (in a greasy ponytail not quite in keeping with the Lilly Pulitzer vibe), and then consuming a platter full of random meaty deliciousness at our very first Colombian restaurant.
Not half bad for life from a tent.
I have to say, we just do better out there.
In our house, the husband and I are on task. We have things to do. We get distracted and crabby and want to be left alone to our projects or our solitude or our 374th viewing of A Few Good Men on TBS. We growl and shoo the kids off to a screen of their own.
But out there, even if we’re in a tent, we’re together on purpose. We have plans. We are lighter in our spirit. We may be cheap (hence the tent), but we’re up for stuff.
And I cannot stress to you what a miracle this is…
Out there, from that tent, our children played together:
a) OUTSIDE, and
b) WITHOUT ARGUING.
These baby vampires — who shriek at the very suggestion that THEY SHOULD GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY — spent hours collecting a plastic container full of weird swamp monster newts then throwing a “party” for them in a shady spot by the lake.
Anybody want second helpings of that? Yes, please.
If it takes a tent for us all to get outside of this house and outside of ourselves, consider me draped in nylon and bug spray and halfway out the door.
Together — our fists full of tent stakes, our hair slick with sheen, our hearts swelling with adventure — we will go out and see the world.
Mosquitos and Lyme Disease and body odor be damned.