Alex and I went camping a few weeks ago, because nothing says “relaxing weekend” quite like trying to fall asleep on the rocky ground of a canyon while cooking food over an open fire that you’re too cool to use lighter fluid to get going. As you probably know, we live in Colorado now—which means we are super rugged outdoorsy people. I also used to backpack all over the world without adhering to basic hygiene. So we should have been prepared for this.
Still, we’re the kind of people who stop at a winery on our way to the desert and OH DON’T WORRY always have a corkscrew on hand. The other people we were camping with were willing to overlook our not-so-rugged tendencies once all the booze was passed around the campfire a few times. Then, things got deep.
Moab has one of the darkest night skies– which means you see the stars more clearly than most everywhere else you might end up. One of our camping mates leaned back in his chair and spoke in a hallowed voice.
“As you look out at the stars, be sure to set your intentions to the universe. Because you never know who may be looking back at you.”
I assumed he was talking about aliens but pretty soon someone else was discussing gamma rays and I was like “why isn’t anyone quoting that scene from Lion King?”
Eventually someone suggested we tell stories and I slipped into an old hostel-dwelling habit of telling the full story of my family secret and the mysterious happenings of my early college years. The next morning, one of my fellow star-gazers thanked me for my vulnerability and openness, calling it inspirational.
“Yeah,” another said, “you’re really good at telling scary stories.”
“Well… that was my life story.”
Apparently when I’d looked out at the stars I’d failed to set my intentions correctly. I’d intended to have a nature-centric weekend of relaxation. Instead, it was a learning experience full of important lessons:
1. A “Three Person Tent” is really a “One Person Tent for Any Sensible Human with Appropriate Boundaries Even If She Loves Her Husband.”
2. It doesn’t matter which side of the bed you normally sleep on, your husband should be by the door because when you inevitably send him out to do all manner of forgotten tasks, he will have to crawl over you and YOU ARE CAMPING IN THE DESERT AND IT’S MADE OF ROCKS AND SAND CREATURES that have been waiting millions of years to get inside your tent.
3. When you run out of water while hiking, do not let your husband suggest a “short cut.” Short cuts are the pathway to death. Even if there is a charming family of five lapping you with an infant in a carrier, this is still a dire situation.
4. Jumbo marshmallows are much better in theory than in practice. And by practice I mean trying to shove it in your mouth without letting it drip down the side of your arm (that’s what she said?).
5. When three random men walk up to your isolated alone-in-a-canyon campsite and don’t say anything but just stand in the dark, you should definitely shine your weaponized maglite on them. When they still don’t say anything and you think you see a shotgun which may or may not actually be a telescope, you should start moving your Taser’s red laser target around on the ground. They will think you are a sniper and leave immediately.
More than anything, I hadn’t realized how damaging a sunburn, sweaty socks, and forgotten baby wipes could be to a romantic relationship. It wasn’t until we’d returned home, showered, eaten lamb curry, and were back in our air conditioned bedroom beneath crisp and clean sheets that I looked at Alex and remembered there was a reason people get married.
“Oh, I’d forgotten I don’t mind being around you.”
It was touch and go for a minute there, but I think we’re gonna make it.
What has YOUR relationship survived? Are you a rugged person? Any important life lessons to share with the class?
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