We ran away on his birthday.
Packed big red with all of our survival gear, beer, books, bikes, sun tan lotion, and a huge ass inflatable crocodile.
Chunky watched our house till it disappeared down our street that’s cascaded by a thick summer shade of green leafy trees. I reassured him that his Auntie would take good care of Champ, his ugly fish Hot Dog, and all his things.
He breathed in.
I breathed out.
Then I cranked up the music and we pressed on.
Shawn veered off the highway about a half hour in because the scenic route is “quicker”. We instantly became a floating arrow to nowhere on big red’s outdated GPS screen and her nagging voice “In 3 POINT 5 KEELomEETores, make a u-turn. REEcalculating…in 4 POINT 5…” was like nails being dragged down a chalkboard so Shawn turned it off. I licked my finger and put it up in the air, “I think it’s that way.”
“Yeah, like I’m trusting you. You get lost in the grocery store.”
Chunky giggled in the back.
We were headed somewhere new and that made me itchy on the inside with anxiety. Last time we went somewhere new, I lost both my nipples to frost bite.
When Shawn mentioned doing something other than camping this year I was ecstatic. We’ve gone camping every year we’ve been together so camping is all I’ve ever expected out of the summer. Well, except for that wild time in Mexico when we got stuck in a three day Hurricane.
“Where do you want to go?” Shawn would poke.
Honestly, I didn’t care where we were going. I was just excited about the thought of getting out of dodgy home life circumstances and spending time in a hotel with an actual bed, a shower, and oh my GOD, a functional toilet.
We started pricing out places like Chicago and…Chicago why are you so damn expensive? The more we waited and budgeted and contemplated where we wanted to go, the more campgrounds were being booked. If you’re a camper, you know that campground sites get booked months and months in advance.
My husband said, “Well, if we don’t book a campground now, we will be shit out of luck.”
“But I don’t really want to do that. Camp.”
“Well we need to figure out what we need to do like NOW”
“I don’t KNOW what to do!”
“Look this campground is full, and this one, and this one, and this one. We need to decide what we are doing or we aren’t going camping.”
“So you want to camp?”
“I don’t care! We just need to decide.”
“Well, I think we should go somewhere different.”
“Different as in campground different or different as in vacationing different?”
Shawn: It’s not hard. Camping or somewhere else?
We are f**king camping…
….but somewhere totally different.
So there we were on lot 67.
Shawn is building a pop up all by himself and Chase is screaming because there are spiders and I’m literally bawling my eyes out in the bathroom while staring down a toilet at the soup poop.
Turns out, there was a much cleaner bathroom with flushing toilets if I had just turned right.
I will give it to Shawn though. His choice in campgrounds are spot on. The views are always spectacular.
Thick lush trees enveloped our site which provided us with plenty of privacy from our neighbours and the busy walking trail. We traveled that path almost daily to the beach and just simply for an adventure.
I spotted two shooting stars at night and while my boys were the most unimpressed lumps on folded out lawn chairs that uncomfortably burrowed into summer burnt thigh skin, I was overjoyed. The last time I saw one was when I was camping with my own grandparents.
Of course I made wishes.
One for my little fish.
One for all of us.
I’m not going to lie and say that this was our best vacation ever and that everything was fabulous 100% of the time because it wasn’t.
We left our vacation early.
Sometimes as parents you make really tough choices and then you try and do your damn hardest to make it better.
August is a tough month for so many people.
It’s a shift of weather and moods and schedules.
It is winding down and then gearing up again.
It’s thinking of and anticipating school.
And for some people, little people, that can wreak havoc.
(Especially for those kids who had a grade two teacher who bullied them to a pulp. It’s hard to get over that fear.)
Our vacation wasn’t perfect.
It’s like all the things we wanted to leave behind like that chaotic whirlwind, we packed with us.
Think of the movie Oz The Great And Powerful
Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck in the middle of that whirlwind, paralyzed, watching it all happen. Other times I’m swooped up, caught in the swirls and being tossed about not knowing what is up or down, left or right.
But the miraculous thing is, beer and a fistful of these dill pickle pumpkin seeds I discovered at a gas station can cure things.
Love can always reach me in the whirlwind and I know that I can reach out wherever I am and there will always be their hands.
We teach our son the same if he ever feels like he’s stuck in some Wizard of OZ like tornado.
People who love you are always right there even if you can’t see them clearly. Stick your hand out.
As we end this month, I continue to look for the good in between and hold those bits close.
Try to make the best week last week of summer together – like we always do.