Sunday, August 19, 2012

Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

It was the first time I slept on our new air mattress, camping.  I even felt a little guilty, like I was cheating on camping.  But my hips thanked me for passing on the Target One Spot yoga mats to our daughters for sleeping pads.

I lay in my sleeping bag on a hot summer night made cool by the mesh roof of our tent and the being-outside-ness.  Our tent, a family double-wide, was a freebie from a friend, and the five of us (including borrowed nephew) fit with plenty of room for more friends.  I slept smack dab in the middle between husband and nephew, flanked by daughters, with an amphitheater-like view of stars above.

I felt a surge of affection for my sleeping bag, an REI mummy model I mush instead of roll when I stow it away so as not to stretch the seams.  My mother had sewn in half, lengthwise, an old blue sheet of my brother's from his childhood bed linens, explaining that the cotton layer would make sleeping inside a nylon bag more comfortable, less sweaty.  She was right. I'd found the sheet at the bottom of my cinch sack, where I'd kept it packed faithfully for twenty years. I recalled how gritty it and my eyelids and nostrils had become when I slept outside in a Moroccan sandstorm.

My sleeping bag and I backpacked on the Appalachian trail with eighth graders.  It traveled to Kenya, Tanzania, and Morocco.  It had hung from trees to dry out after rain.  I tried, once, to zip it together with a boyfriend's bag.

My sleeping bag brought me back to my solo days, when a summer adventure cost only one plane ticket and my own gumption and supplies.  Only I and the sleeping bag and the sheet inside connected the Me of 15 years ago to this moment, camping under the stars with my family and friends.

On an evening hike with Big Sis, as she experienced the natural high and exhilaration of wide open space and birdsand deer and lizards and jack rabbits and unexpected tarantulas on the trail, she turned to me and exclaimed, "Mom, I want to camp as often as we can.  And I want to go camping for my whole life."

Amen, sister.  And maybe when you're 41, you can sleep on an air mattress.


Marisa Reichardt said...

This almost makes me want to go camping. Almost.

fer said...

You can borrow the air mattress! C'mon!

Anonymous said...

Can't blame you for using the air mattress - it's just not worth it waking up with a sore back. Double sleeping bags are fun too and generally more comfortable than regular sleeping bags.