When I was young, I always imagined that adulthood would be a string of grand adventures and deep, deep emotions. As I've grown older, I've realized that that is not always true. Life fluctuates, and when those deep emotions do happen, I should hold onto them with fierce attentiveness and presence. Our annual camping trip is always one of those times for me.
We're driving through the mountains, three cars, a small caravan making our way to the reservoir. We're texting each other about ice cream and needing to pee, and Ian being a dad and telling everyone we can't stop but then we stop we he needs to pee. I'm filling up with excitement as we wind through those mountains, windows open, music playing, the trunk full of backpacks, beer and supplies.
When we arrive, Alyssa and Alex are waiting for us. Ian and I are carrying backpacks strapped with tents and sleeping bags, but also a heavy cooler full of beer between us along a thin pathway. As we're walking, my sleeping bags pops off of Ian's backpack and heads straight for the reservoir. I just watch and laugh, assuming it will stop, but then it doesn't and drops straight into the water. By the time I realize this, Ian's already unloaded his gear and running down the hill to save it before it floats away. I laugh and we keep walking. The arrival at the campsite feels just like every year- several people already waiting, hammocks in trees, tents spread out, and someone is chopping wood while someone else gathers. We all yell hellos, and quickly set up tents before passing around beers and walking down to the water. Kayla's dog Ponyo splashes in first, swimming after a stick. People start dipping their toes in the freezing water, and Alex dives in and swims far out. Katie, Luke, Jens, and Sean follow. I sit on the rocks taking photos and feeling so so happy.
We spend the day swimming, sunbathing, hammocking and drinking. Luke helps me to set up a hammock higher than the others, and I struggle to get in. We yell and celebrate when he finally just helps to lift me into it. We cook dinner, tell stories, read books, and spend time together. I can't believe that it's 12 people this year (plus Ponyo the dog). We're all playing in the hammocks when it starts to get dark. "You know what time it is, right?" I ask Kayla. "What?" she says. "SKINNY DIPPING!!!" I yell. There's cheers of excitement and groans of disappointment. Not everyone wants to freeze. We pass around the whiskey and drink straight from the bottle, building our courage for the freezing cold. Jens brings a stick on fire down by the water, and starts up a fire for the people staying behind. We all tear off our clothes and go screaming into the water. It's shocking and cold, the rocks on the bottom are sharp on my feet. I run in and out as fast as I can. Kayla convinces me to do it a second time, after I've already put my clothes back on, and we all strip quickly and run back out. We all laugh around the fire and drink more whiskey from the bottle to warm our insides.
Later in the night, Jens asks if we want to go see the stars. We climb up the hill next to us, and sit under the open sky. Everything is still, and quiet. The stars are big and bright above us, more stars than I've seen in a long time. We're all sitting close together, smoking, and watching as the shooting stars go by. I go to bed with a full heart.
The next day we spend relaxing. I make a terrible breakfast of oatmeal, and end up throwing it out, so Ian and I drink beer for breakfast instead. We spend time at the rocks, drinking, swimming, splashing. Before we know it, half the day is gone, and it's time to pack up. We pack up our things, walk back to the car, and smoke a parting bone before driving home.