Yesterday we went on our first ever family of five camping trip. It was a school-wide trip so we were there with lots of families we love. The afternoon was fun and included paddle boating and rambling. It reminded me how far we've come from the village. Having multiple other eyes on your kids, taking a hike with kids that aren't yours, having five adults ask if you're OK when you fall down and your parents aren't around; this is good. Really good. It's how it's meant to be.
But I'd like to do my best now to describe my experience last night at Inks Lake State Park. Evening time was your standard group gathering with burgers, s'mores, campfire, etc. The party dispersed. Ava had been invited to sleep in a tent with two other girls.
Erik and I got Safa and Eden in their sleeping bags and Ava settled. All three of them had noses so stuffy they could barely breathe. It was about 9:00. Eden and Safa fidgeted and were generally over-tired and miserable. The park was over-crowded and noisy, we were right across the street from the bathrooms.
Erik and I got into our sleeping bags. The level of noise was insane. Erik said that it was like trying to sleep in the middle of the street in our neighborhood and in a bar all at the same time. We did the kind of complaining that was marked by a solid, self-satisfied notion that we were, on the deepest level, better than the people making all the noise.
Then we heard them. Some kind of humanoid (i'm quite sure humans aren't physically capable of this level of noise-making) whose sole purpose was to create a cacophony loud enough to keep even the most exhausted person awake. They were playing some kind of game. A game that consisted of intermittent whooping and laughter so loud and it made my throat hurt. I leaned over to Erik and said, "I have to practice "Hot Cross Buns" on my recorder, I'm not very good, but I AM loud." He said, "OK. I have to go and check the doors of my 63-door car." We laid there for a very long time. Eden fell asleep. Then Safa. I stared at the tent ceiling and seethed only the way a person can when they are being kept awake against their will.
Erik went to the bathroom. While he was gone, the couple (not part of our group) in the tent next to us (read: right on top of us) started making some noise. I thought: Maybe their having sex. Well, at least it will be entertaining. I really thought this. I heard whispering. Then: "I just don't understand why you have to be such an ASSHOLE!" The promise of distraction was over before it had begun.
Erik returned, I closed my eyes, tried to fake sleep hoping to induce the real thing. Then Ava appears at the tent door. She needs to go to the bathroom. We go. She wants to return back to the tent with us. After much rearranging we get her settled, but it takes her a very long time to fall asleep. An hour passes. Maybe two. Then "Dude" comes on the scene. Loud, obnoxious, drunk Dude. And he brought friends. They are so loud they actually drown out the humanoids. Hours pass. Crickets scream, but finally...quiet. I fall asleep.
Safa awakens soon after and needs to pee. I ask Erik to hand me the potty chair we have moved just outside the tent to accommodate Ava. He hands it to me and I spill pee all over my sleeping bag. I clean it up with someones shirt. Then more noise. Is that coyotes? Owls? Puppies being strangled? My family sleeps. They snore. Car doors slam. I finally fall asleep. A little later, noise at the bathroom. Awake.
What's black and white and stinks all over? A freakin' skunk. Seriously. The funk moves through our tent and hangs in the air while my family sleeps and I cover my face and start mentally writing this post.
Then somehow, miraculously, it's dawn. The man from the couple next to us stirs and they start fighting immediately. Tires screech. Kids yell. Birds cry.