My husband doesn’t know me. I swear, he thinks I’m a princess and our mattress has a pea underneath it. You know, he thinks I’m a delicate, feminine flower.

My mom thinks the same thing about me. A couple weeks ago, I posted a link to an article about national park rangers on my Facebook page with the caption, “I’ve always wanted to be a park ranger.”

“Really?” my mom commented below.

Yes, really.

People think, just because I have an affinity for high heels, that I have an aversion to discomfort and inconvenience. Really? Have you ever worn high-heeled shoes? They are the very definition of discomfort and inconvenience!

Anyway, over the summer, I mentioned to Tom (the aforementioned husband) that maybe I’d like to buy a tent and take our daughters camping.

“You?” he hooted. “You don’t camp!”

“Well, not lately,” I grumbled and slunk off, embarrassed.

Then I thought better of it – because who am I to miss an opportunity to duke it out ? – and circled back around to him.

“Listen here, New Jersey,” I said to him (no I didn’t, but wouldn’t it be funny if I did?) “I’ll have you know that when I was nine, I spent the entire summer living in a tent.”

It’s true!

He didn’t believe me.

“Yep,” I said. “I lived with my dad in Pocahontas County, and he set up a tent for me in the woods by the house. I camped there all summer,” I said.

“Huh,” Tom said.

Here’s the thing: just because I choose to live my life without a lot of discomfort and inconvenience – with a couple of exceptions in the footwear department, although I have to admit I’ve spent most of this past summer in Birkenstocks – doesn’t mean I don’t know how to rough it. In fact, I’d argue that the primary reason I like life’s little luxuries is because I spent so much of my childhood in homes without television, toilets and things like, oh, I don’t know, electricity.

Anyway, this past summer flew by, as they do, and we never got to go camping, so, this weekend, I’m borrowing a couple tents and hauling our family to the Greenbrier River to do some proper outside living.

I’ve been making a packing list. Here’s what’s on it so far:

1. hula hoop

2. poison ivy gel

Don’t tell me I don’t know how to camp.


• • •

Our campsite is about a mile away from where we’re going to park, so I’m trying to figure out the logistics of hauling in all our loot.

When I was growing up, my folks had a garden cart, which was perfect for these types of things, but I don’t have one of those. The closest thing I have is a Radio Flyer wagon, which, I think, I can craft into a makeshift Conestoga wagon in order to accommodate the tents, chairs, sleeping bags and everything else. It’s really cute in my mind.

The reality is going to involve something more along the lines of bungee cords, and backpacks and unwieldy coolers. I can almost guarantee that the wagon is going to tip over and someone’s probably going to cry.

It might be me.

I keep trying to figure out how to haul in a kayak, and the best possible way I can figure is to dump the wagon and cooler with Tom and the girls and float to the campsite by myself. Honestly, I think that’s my best idea so far.

• • •

When I was in college, my mom and I went camping in the New Mexico mountains. We managed to get our tent set up before it started raining. Then, I seem to recall, Mom got sick with a stomach virus. It rained all weekend. Luckily, I’d packed a book.

• • •

When I was in high school, my dad took me camping in West Texas. I was a bit of a juvenile delinquent, and I remember deciding to smoke pot in my tent. A couple years later, it donned on me how obvious I must have been, with the smoke billowing out of the tent seams and my silhouette sharp against the tent walls as I lifted a joint to my lips. What an idiot.

• • •

And yes, back when I was nine, I spent the summer living in a tent in the woods by my house. I had everything I needed: a flashlight, a book, a notebook, a pen and a roll of toilet paper. I was far away from my bratty younger sister and colicky baby brother, and yet still close enough to see the house from my tent window.

• • •

I can’t wait to go camping this weekend. I hope the water’s up, and I hope it doesn’t rain. Beyond that, I can’t think of anything else I’ll possibly need.


more recommended stories