It seems that suddenly, everyone wants us to go camping with them this summer.
I have always loathed this topic, which comes up as summer looms. Often it’s a half-hearted discussion within the household, where they well know my stance on camping even if they don’t understand it. I usually don’t have to worry. When it comes to things that take that much effort and planning, my closest relatives are all talk. (That’s not to say that sometimes they don’t shock me by actually booking a vacation now and then. It’s impossible to accurately gauge how serious they are for that reason.)
But when outside invitations are extended, it’s a different ballgame. They want a full explanation. I can say it’s an issue with lack of plumbing, but I’m really not a wimp in that area. I don’t mind foregoing showers and swimming in a lake for a week. It’s the getting hairy that’s hard. Or rather, the expectation to not be hairy. Even if I could risk offending people with poodles under my arms and cacti for legs, a beard would be hard for them to process.
Then if the inviting party says the campsite has good facilities, I don’t know what to say. I’ve camped where there have been public showers a short walk away, but that never used to ease the pressure I felt as a hirsute teenager. It's robbed me of a fun, relaxing holiday more than once.
It probably didn’t help that I was much younger then, and was still coming to terms with this mysterious change in my body. Or that I was with people I instinctively did not trust. So this past weekend, when the subject of possibly going camping came up in mixed company, I stayed silent, thinking. At first I was angry that my family one by one replied with interest, leaving me to give the answer they know I will give and not showing the least bit of hesitance for my sake. But I remembered the numerous comments on this blog that express how silly it is to let this thing hold us back from what we really want to do. I remembered that I’ve said it, too.
And this time, I could see myself clambering out of my tent in my flannel pajamas one cool mountain morning, plopping down in my folding chair in front of the fire with a cup of coffee, freely itching my chin stubble and saying to all the company, “Sorry, haven’t had a chance to shave yet. I’ll do it before we go out in the boat.” And then shaving with my razor and a bowl full of hot water from a kettle on a picnic table in the middle of the campsite. It didn’t scare me. It made me laugh. Maybe I’m ready for camping this year after all.