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keepers of our former selves

May 26, 2009

For the second year running, the long Memorial Day weekend was spent on a camping trip with friends in Covert Park, Michigan. It’s about 45 minutes from where I am in Kalamazoo, with campgrounds a mere walk to the beach.

Yes, my dears, I braved the wild and survived! 🙂 Anyone who knows me understands that this is not a joke, even as Covert Park is not exactly the wilderness- there were toilets, hot showers, and even a small store for sundries. Alas, I’m extremely allergic to mosquito bites and extremely attached to the comforts of my home- a bad combination for any prospective camper.

The first year, it was about 30 degrees at night, so we shivered in our sleeping bags on the pebbly tent floor. Which is why we had the foresight to bring a blow-up mattress this time around. But this year, the thing we weren’t prepared for was rain, which brings us to the next unbelievably inconvenient thing about camping- you practically have to pack your entire house to account for everything! My poor husband had the truck packed to the gills; we were seriously debating on which child to leave behind (apologies for the poor pun).

Imagine 5 families forming a network of tents and a constant gaggle of what amounted to 12 kids trekking to and from either the beach or the bathroom (the 2 most popular destinations), add to that a Yorkie tied to a tree, and you might have a close visualization of the circus I voluntarily joined for the weekend.

And yet I sit here writing, to tell you it was bliss. Complete and utter bliss.

The children were wild with joy at being finally allowed to go native (coffee pot soot made for brilliant warpaint), the beach was divine, and on the rare occasions when the kids were all away, the wooded campground was absolutely still and green. I had forgotten what it was like to sit by an outdoor fire and listen to leaves rustle.

Of course, the kids all went to bed eventually, and the adults were able to have some alone time- mainly to get shit-faced, crack silly jokes, and make general asses of themselves 🙂

What resonates most right now is all the reminiscing. We’ve been friends with these people for ages; some of them my husband’s friends from high school. If you’re ever curious about what people remember most about you, go on a camping trip with friends you went to school with back in the day. I can’t guarantee that the memories would all be good, but it is always an advisable thing to get in touch with your former self. And apart from your family, old friends are the best keepers of those.

It is a coming full circle of sorts, and an experience I highly recommend. One that I’m also glad to share with my boys- this time in their lives is so fleeting; their future selves approach every day. I hope these memories shape them well.

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