My people don't camp.
I wish when I said this statement, it sounded as arrogant as it reads. But when it tumbles out of my mouth the words are filled with disappointment, having been all but deflated of their rarified airs.
No matter what I do, my people don't camp.
I've always owned a tent. I've always had gadgets that would help me ease back to civilization if ever I got away from it: backpack, sleeping bag ... collapsible cups. I can barely pass up packaging that purports waterproof matches.
I've just never been able to convince anyone else that camping in the great outdoors would be an adventure worth having.
You see, though my parents were fond of taking the family on annual trips to Boston and Cape Cod, they preferred clean and modern motels with pools or walking access to the beach.
And the mechanics of these weeklong rituals back in the late '70s went without question.
To ask my mother if we could go camping would have been akin to asking if we could go to the moon.
Into a war zone where the enemies are mosquitoes and public showers.
It was safer to ask the man at the front desk to explain the tide charts every couple of hours. At least he'd give me two wrapped peppermints to get rid of me.
My mother just told me I would grow up and do whatever I wanted. If it was to be the moon ... "Well, good luck with your uphill battle."
Mothers, bless their stubborn hearts, are usually right.
Though my people have changed over the years, through marriage and periods of gestation -- I even have a husband who relishes his bi-annual camping trips with his boyhood pals -- the closest we've ever come to camping as a family is pitching a tent in the backyard ...
And then moving it into the living room when the sun went down and small bodies with big imaginations decided a zipper wasn't much protection from all the noise the wild suburban kingdom is prone to making.
But I haven't lost hope.
I even caught a glint of it for a moment this year, when my husband mumbled something about the guys planning a weekend camping trip for the families.
In my mind, I could see us all gathered on an island in Maine. Our tents pitched as if in a catalogue village. Kayaks portaged and waiting at waters' edge. Folding chairs set up around a blazing campfire. Me walking around with my tin cup of coffee, surveying it all ...
I could almost smell the bacon sizzling away on a camp stove.
Of course, it could have been a display area, over to the left.
We do find ourselves in outdoor equipment stores quite often. My husband is looking for luggage. Kids are looking for backpacks. I am looking for woolen socks. After awhile, the children, having wandered around and found nothing appealing, will settle in among the camp chairs display, try them all until one has the right fit.
There they will stay, quietly staring into their pocket pals until we have decided on purchases.
I wonder aloud if we should look into buying a bigger tent for the upcoming camping trip. There's a preseason sale ...
"Oh, Sorry," he said, with the sound he makes of sucking back air whenever he has to eat his words. "Timing didn't work out on that trip this year."
See? There's no getting away from it.
I stand there, wide-eyed and gaping-mouthed. A small hand tugs on my coat with urgency.
"I need to peeeeeee!"
Our people don't camp. Our people just hang out at camping stores and pretend.
"At least this place has a bathroom."