The Awkward Camper

We have spent the last several weeks traveling. During that time we have stayed at various campgrounds. Some thoughts on camping…

I am an awkward camper. I married a boyscout/camper/adventurer/outsidegenius type person who loves to be outside and will always choose sleeping on the ground in the wild as opposed to staying in a hotel. We went camping on our honeymoon. I was young, in love and really didn’t care where I was, so it wasn’t a problem. Over the years as we have traveled all over the world together, I have adapted to the camping mentality and I am the first to point out that it is a lot cheaper for our family to camp while traveling than to stay at a hotel. But, I’m still an awkward camper. I would say my number one complaint about camping is lack of bathrooms. I inevitably have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night which then involves me crawling from the air mattress, disentangling myself from whatever child has climbed in with me, finding the zipper to the opening in the dark, cringing because the sound of the zipper is loud enough to wake the whole campground, and then crawling on hands and knees through the opening where I end up in a heap on the ground. Then shakily standing up and staggering to the nearest bathhouse/outhouse/whateverisavailabe place. Of course all of this is precluded by an hour of laying in the bed trying to convince myself I can hold it and wait till morning till my body finally says, No, you cannot wait.

So, we’re camping and by some miracle I sleep through the night and don’t wake up till early dawn. I was of course awoken by the baby who half-woke and wanted his mama. I quickly grab the baby and lay him next to me so that his cries won’t wake up everyone else. He finally settles down and goes back to sleep. I am now squished between the baby and my husband on the air mattress. The laws of physics and a general knowledge of air mattresses tell me that if I get off the air mattress my husband and baby are going to sink into the middle of the air mattress, which might wake up the baby. I need to use the bathroom, which in the case of this campground, is a rather icky outhouse. Stay where I am and not wake the baby or use the bathroom? Finally the bathroom wins out. I poke Andy and tell him I’m using the bathroom and he’s in charge of keeping the baby quiet. Then in one big flurry I crawl over my husband and stumble out of the tent. The air mattress half-deflates, baby starts rolling and immediately wakes up and starts crying. I stand outside the tent in indecision. Go back into the tent and get the baby quiet or run for the bathroom???? My body says, there are no options here, go to the bathroom! Ok. I am going to trust my husband has what it takes to quiet the baby so I turn and head towards the outhouse.

I need to add one other important piece of information. I wear glasses. I need glasses. I cannot see without glasses. I have maybe a 2 foot circle around me where I can see, and then everything is fuzzy and blurry. I have left my glasses inside the tent. I start walking towards the outhouse and stop. In my blurry haze it looks like there is a truck parked beside the outhouse and it appears that several people are moving around the outhouse. Cleaning? It certainly needs cleaning. It’s an obvious time to clean as everyone is still asleep. Except me. I stop at the edge of my campsite, squinting, trying to see what is going on. I have no desire to go up close and see people in my present state of just-crawled-out-of-bedness. I stand hovering, wondering if they will be done soon. There is another proper bathhouse on the other side of the campground which is probably a good 5 minute brisk walk away. I really don’t feel like taking a walk right now.  

As I’m standing there I see through my blurry haze another camper in the next campsite over, crawling out of their tent. The camper stumbles toward the outhouse and stops short as well. They (can’t tell whether it’s a he or she) see the workers by the outhouse. The other camper stands hovering on the edge of their campsite doing a repeat performance of me. I feel a moment of connection. Yes. I understand your pain random camper.

Ok. I am going to have to go to the other bathhouse. I can walk 5 minutes. But I can’t see. Do I dare try to walk through the whole campground blind? …No. I do not dare. But I don’t want to go back into my tent and look for my glasses and wake the baby up again. My husband just got him back to sleep. More hovering as my half-awake brain tries to figure out what to do. Wait. I have some prescription sunglasses in the car. It’s light enough they can work. I quietly open the car and the phrase from an old cassette tape I used to listen to as a kid comes back to me, “How can I see to find my glasses without my glasses on to see?” I think this as I squint into the car. The glasses should be on the dash. There are a lot of things on the dash. I reach my hand up and try to see if I can feel them. I feel an assortment of books, charging cords for various phones, papers…no sunglasses. I stand back. Think this through again. Can I walk blind,? Maybe I can do it, it should be ok…No… Are they done cleaning the outhouse?!! I can’t see all the way over there, but random camper is still hovering so I presume they aren’t done… More thinking.

Maybe the sunglasses are in my handbag? I go back to the car and grab my handbag. I of course can’t see into my handbag. This is not because I’m blind though. Even with glasses I wouldn’t be able to see into my handbag. My handbag is the black hole of my life. It holds an infinite number of objects and once something goes into my bag, it is rarely found again. I try to feel inside my bag but I”m so tired that my reasoning abilities aren’t working. I have no idea what I’m feeling. I start getting a bit frantic and turn my handbag upside down and begin dumping it out. There’s my wallet and my other wallet that holds 10 children’s worth of insurance cards, library cards, random other cards I need. Papers, tissues, and Oh, look, a spoon. Why is there is a metal spoon in my handbag? It’s actually been there a while. I’m not sure how it got there and every time I see it I am surprised again at its presence, but I have never discovered the spoon while I was at home, where I could then remove the spoon and put it into the kitchen. So, I keep stuffing this surprising spoon back into my purse with the good intentions of removing it when I get home, which never happens.

But I digress. Back to my sunglasses. They are not in my purse. I need to use the bathroom. I am blind. It’s time to take drastic measures. I am going to retrieve my glasses from the tent, sleeping baby or not. I slowly start unzipping the tent. It sounds horribly loud but I persevere. Must get my glasses. Must use the bathroom. I manage to open the tent and then start feeling around the air mattress. I know I put them somewhere around here. My husband wakes up. I whisper-yell – I need my glasses!! He sits up and feels around until he finds them and hands them to me. Thank you Knight in Shining Armor. I slap my glasses on my face and look over towards the outhouse. Random camper is leaving the outhouse. The workers are gone. Apparently a lot has happened while I undertook my search for sight. I am now wide awake. I head towards the outhouse. Camping is so much fun.

2 thoughts on “The Awkward Camper

  1. You had me FEELING your urgency to use the bathroom! Esther, you deserve a week in a posh, spa-like, luxury resort. Just you and a good book with you favorite classical music.

    Liked by 1 person

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