Friday, March 23, 2012

Camping 101, aka Hell Week

A successful camping experience is really no problem at all. Simply follow the Boy Scout motto, “be prepared” and the joys of outdoor living are yours.

It’s helpful if the weeks prior to your trip are filled with too damn many places to go, do, think about and deal with. Do not take heed when your friends reschedule the camp site next to yours because too much is going on. Nah, you got this, how hard could it be, really?

Clear your mind of other responsibilities before focusing on recreation. The first order of business is to plan for the fact that your business partner will be in Hawaii for the week and a half preceding your virgin camping trip. This will give you the opportunity to hone both your organizational skills, and your patience. You can consider your newfound commute between offices as ‘me time’.

There are two birthday parties and a Farmer’s Market that also need attending. You decide this is the perfect day to take your one year old puppy to the market for the first time. If not now, when? You’re sure the other shoppers won't mind his barking, his long tangling leash, or his wild eyed owner who might have just dropped the leash and walked the other way if her son were not there complaining how hungry he was. Determined to acclimate the dog to urban life and feed the child, you decide a sit down restaurant is a good idea. You could have brought less imaginative treats, but you are thankful for the bag of asparagus from the market to keep the dog busy at least till your lemonade and Advil arrive. The sound of your constant directions are tiresome especially to you, so you try to stop speaking. Listening becomes a challenge, all the listening makes you want to spear your own eyeball with an olive fork. You listen to the two yappy rat-dogs three tables over yip at every passerby; you listen to your child analyze and question why the waiter gave him more bubbles than lemonade and you more lemonade than bubbles; and best of all the lovely couple that won’t stop telling you all the benefits of, not only their golden retriever, but yours as well. It does not escape your notice that they cue their dog to stick its nose in people’s laps that clearly do not want to dine with a strange dog’s face in their crotch. You are also not amused by all the people entertained by your asparagus eating dog, nor are you amused by the lackadaisical waiter who later suggests you leave him a 50% tip…”Yes, I want my change and you will now get less of it for being a presumptuous jerk and for putting too damn many bubbles in my son’s lemonade for god’s sake!”

Next, you realize that the Variety Show your seven year old has signed up to perform in is in six days. He and a friend are to put on a three minute magic show. Three minutes is not a very long time for many things; three minutes is an excruciating amount of time for a magic show when you know exactly no magic. Your husband thinks it’s great that you relinquished the responsibility of the show, but when you relinquish a job to no one, you're pretty sure that’s called shirking not relinquishing. Your mind races, your boy is standing on the old wooden elementary school stage, overcome with fear and unpreparedness. He faces the audience squarely, squinches up his face, throws his head back, and cries in front of the whole school. His confidence, his courage is shattered and he withdraws...forever. You decide not to let his life be ruined at age seven. You decide the best thing is for him to quit and be done with it. He refuses; part of you feels proud of his perseverance and the other part of you does not want to deal with this at all. You write a script, learn a couple of magic tricks, organize rehearsals with his partner, threaten to make him quit, yell, cry, get talked off the ledge, get the music, change the whole thing a time or two and shriek that everyone start having a good time right this minute. Your head is pounding.

You both learn a lot. He learns exactly how crazy his mother is, a couple of magic tricks, and that he still likes being on stage. You get your magic socks blown clean off when he tells you flat out, “It’s like you care too much Mom, it’s like it’s your show. I want your help, but not in front of my friends and not too much.” Seriously. You try to heed his words because he is right. You give, and he follows, your last advice to take a deep breath when the curtain starts to open, have a good time and his audience will have a good time too. (Thanks Sam!) He did, they did, and you are so proud and happy for him.

You get a job offer midweek from the client whose office you’ve been occupying for the last month and a half. It’s a decent offer but requires the breakup of the business partnership that you’ve had for over sixteen years. Your little niche in the mortgage industry is quickly fading, a regular job is tempting, and no amount of Advil can take away the pounding in your head.

Your husband takes on the Pinewood Derby duty with your son, the big race which is to take place two days after the Magic Show and right in the middle of your camping weekend. You aren’t going far; it’s no trouble at all to leave the camping fun for the big car race. The Pinewood Derby is an annual Cub Scout activity in which the boys craft a car out of a block of wood the size of a brick, and then race them on an official track with all the other Cub Scouts. Luckily, most of the work on the car was done a few weeks prior. Your husband practices great restraint and only summons the boy to work on the car when you are far, far away. He is correctly fearful that you are going to blow at any moment.

The week includes the regular commitments of work, school, soccer, chess and swimming. You only forget swimming. There is a Recognition Ceremony to attend which may or may not have lasted 42 hours. Life around the office is chaotic with intermittent internet and phone connections due to a major office move and change of phone systems. Clients are outraged at your inability to get everything completed in the midst of it all. Your husband works into the nights cleaning up the trailer and getting it ready for your first time out. The moon is approaching its fullness and with it, your hormones are on full tilt.

You're pulled from Crazy Town and thrown straight into darkness at the end of the week when you learn that a good friend’s ex husband took his own life. They have (had?)two adult children. Your friend is a positive, thoughtful soul and found the one bit of generosity in his act, “fortunately he chose the right type of weapon, there was only what looked like a bruise to the forehead”. Her kids cannot be okay, she is not okay. You don’t know what to say, how to comfort, your head pounds. You think about the desperate times we live in, how many people are in real struggle, how the unyielding business of survival disallows so much of what is critical to our well being.

You don’t feel much like camping

No comments: