>> Friday, August 26, 2011 – Camping, French Canadians, job interviews, Maine, strengths and weaknesses
I tried to convince myself that this time, it would be different. I’ll try harder. Reasoning it out like a battered spouse should have been a warning sign. Previous camping experiences as an adolescent boy scout consisted of wet stinky tents, unidentifiable food, sleep deprivation and listening to a variety of body noises, none of which particularly appealed to me. But time had softened the edges and as I bought my train ticket bound for Maine, I was actually a bit giddy.
Paul and the kids picked me up at the station. “Our campsite is a little close to the Interstate, but the constant sound of the cars is like white noise. It will help you sleep.” Paul said optimistically. I was willing to believe him. As we pulled into the campground, I must admit, it was beautifully groomed. Then we drove deeper and deeper into the woods, until it was eternally dusk.
On our walk to the pool I couldn’t help but notice that the only language I heard was French. How very cosmopolitan I thought. A young French Canadian family consisting of a mother and her six year old boy and four year old girl joined us at the pool. Here is an interesting observation, when children whine in French; it is just as irritating as it is in English. Now my French is a little rusty, but even I could figure out that the girl was not happy that her older brother was trying to drown her. Maybe the mother was a deaf French Canadian.
There really is little else to do at night while camping than sit by a camp fire and drink. Fortunately, I happen to like burning things and enjoy a nice glass or two or five of wine. As the evening wore on, I began to find more things to burn, the wine cork, the trash, pine needles and finally, the wine bottles themselves. I watched them all curl and melt and felt a strange fascination in the destruction of everyday objects. Paul was scared.
Crawling into the tent, I felt sufficiently buzzed enough to pass out and sleep through the night. Then I heard the cars, and motorcycles and Mack trucks. Layered on top of that was Paul’s snoring, which apparently he only does while sleeping on an air mattress in a tent. Somehow I was able to fall asleep, only to be awakened by a troupe of French Canadian hippies that decided to camp next to us at 3:00 AM. Can Canadians not afford hotels? I was covered in a moist cold filmy dew. For a while I lay there listening to Paul’s snoring, drunk French singing and muffler-less cars in the distance: the sounds of nature. Unable to stand it any longer, I crawled into the back seat of our car, and bent my legs back upon themselves.
“Ok, now I can check this off my bucket list” I thought to myself. But what occurred to me was that now I have a weakness masquerading as strength. When someone asks me what one of my greatest strengths is, I will say “I can make the best of bad situations”, but what I will be thinking is “I like to burn things.”