I just spent a couple of days in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest camping with my immediate, original family: my mom, dad, and brother, and his wife, son, and daughter. These are my favorite times–just kicking back, gathering around the campfire, enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors and the company of the people who love and tolerate me no matter what (which is a good thing, considering they’re lucky if I wield a hair- or toothbrush the entire time).
With the addition of my husband, who wasn’t able to join us on this spontaneous little outing due to having that increasingly rare thing called a job (and, unlike some of us, not being able to ditch it), this is my core group of fellow humans, the ones I would naturally and immediately try to huddle up with were there a government coup, natural disaster, or zombie-producing pandemic like on The Walking Dead (that show I watch obsessively with all the joy of gawking at a horrible car accident on the highway)….
….all of which I’ve had nightmares about at one time or another, by the way.
I had no access to my usually-constant companions, Mr. Cell Phone and Ms. Internet, for 3 days and 2 nights, and I was surprised to find it immediately not only tolerable, but actually a relief. (I did miss being able to text Brad, in the vein of Bobo from our guilty TV pleasure, Finding Bigfoot, that the area we were camping in was very “squatchy.” That would have gotten me at least an LOL in return.)
It got us talking about how just 15 or so years ago we still found it normal to be out of touch with our loved ones when they traveled, which got us further talking about the old days, when people would take off on journeys that would put them out of contact with home for months or even years (or maybe even forever; they didn’t always know) and whole lives would begin and end and change during the time they were gone.
My mom remarked that this complete cutting-off of family contacts probably helped prompt the population of the West, as throngs of newlyweds decided that risking life and limb crossing snowy mountain ranges was better than being stuck within shouting distance of their in-laws for the rest of their lives. Heh, heh, heh….
Anyway, we ate freshly-caught trout, played in the creek, told funny stories, made s’mores, held an impromptu Tri-Generational Looney Tunes Appreciation Society meeting, and enjoyed the surveillance/company of a bold doe that woke us up in the middle of night 2, loudly licking the fried-potato dregs out of the skillet my dad had left next to the camp stove on the tailgate of his pickup. When we parted ways and came home yesterday, as always, it was bittersweet. I found myself once again wishing we could all just live together like that forever.
I’m having a rougher-than-usual time reassimilating into everyday living. Even my beloved Facebook is getting on my nerves, to the point where I’m asking myself if it might not be time to try and break that habit. My in-laws (of whom I have no problem living within shouting distance, by the way) are headed to Lake Almanor today to spend the week and have invited us to come spend a night or two, and it sounds positively heavenly, but the real world demands that we stay here and take care of business.
I hate taking care of business. It holds so much false importance. It’s a whole chunk of life that only exists to perpetuate its own existence. My dad and I (first ones up, as usual) were sitting by the fire on morning 1 of the trip, and he looked up through the pines, firs, and cedars and said something like “I think that might be the only thing I’d really miss about dyin’, is seein’ those trees swayin’ in that mountain breeze.”
It makes me tear up just thinking about it. In fact, this would be the second family camping trip in as many years to be closely followed by a good cry for me. Time goes by faster and faster. I think it really sucks that taking care of business usually trumps sneaking off to go camping and enjoy life. I was lucky enough to be able to skip out on 2 days’ worth of self-employment income so as not to miss out on spending some time with my people under those swaying, whispering treetops. I just want to enjoy my loved ones while we’re all still here and gaze at the world’s beauty while there’s still some left.