I knew it was coming. It was not only certain, it was imminent. Sometimes, you have to let go and accept the facts. Despite my desire to do so, I can’t control everything in my life. The question was, what was I going to do now?
Things between Julie and I had been going well. She was making a strong effort, and so was I. As they say, sh…t happens; for us, it happened at 3 AM on a Sunday morning. And it happened with a crash and crying.
Despite Julie’s bad leg, we had successfully managed to go camping, not once but twice. She was trying to be as independent as possible, and I was letting her, but with a watchful eye. We were working together as a camping team and were being successful.
Like many, it isn’t uncommon for Julie to visit the potty in the middle of the night. Naturally, this presents its own challenge, as her right leg doesn’t work well. Add that we are sleeping in tight quarters, in a camper, and in the middle of nowhere.
Clearly, we had devised a scheme to accommodate this anticipated need, but every plan has an error limit. Nothing is perfect, and there is only so much you can do when two people live in a space smaller than most bathrooms.
Poor Julie couldn’t find a grip and fell off the toilet and directly on her bad foot, breaking it. Any further camping for her this season was out of the question. We had one scheduled weekend left, as Mike and Nancy generously gave us their reservation at our local campground. What to do?
There is a natural part of me that tends to put others first. Some who know me may disagree with this statement, but it is absolutely true and especially in the case of people whom I care about. My initial thought was to abandon the last campout so I could stay home and ensure that Julie’s needs were met. However, rationality hit as she had no scheduled events that needed a driver, and there were three able-bodied adults at home who all possessed a driver’s license in case of a change in plans. I asked Julie if she was OK with me camping solo, and she gave me the nod.
On Friday, I drove her to her 6 PM radiation appointment and then raced home to throw some clothes into a backpack and grab a few groceries from the fridge and cupboard. I knew our county campground closed early, and I had little time.
I put some stuff in Violet’s fridge and tossed my backpack into a cubby; I was off for the 15-minute trip to the forest preserve. When I arrived, it was very dark, and when combined with the cold biting air, it felt a bit spooky.
I usually camp with one of three people, and each experience differs. Camping with my son, William, is all about new experiences. Also, Will appreciates my cooking, so I make elaborate camping meals for him.
Camping with my friend, Tom, is all about adventure. Tom loves to do spontaneous things, a contrast to my overthinking. He travels in a separate vehicle and usually likes to drive to attractions, which is another plus for me. With Tom, it often feels like we are two 12-year-olds rediscovering the world. It is always fun.
Julie is a planner like me who finds locations and attractions well. I appreciate that in her. In the past, I would try to give her a complete vacation and do everything from driving to meal prep to… everything else. More recently, I have been turning over jobs to her, which has turned out well despite her reduced mobility.
All three campers are fun to travel with. However, I also like to travel solo for reasons ranging from my introvertedness to challenging myself to do uncomfortable things, like striking up a conversation with strangers.
This solo camping trip would be short, but I would make it productive and enjoyable. One thing I was going to do was to keep the camper perfectly organized, as order gives me pleasure. Well, that lasted for about 5 minutes.
I would also organize my storage bins in Violet’s garage (the storage area underneath her bed). However, I didn’t even open up a single Rubbermaid container.
I didn’t want to do anything that involved work, and it slowly dawned on me that the last months have been nothing but work, with almost every moment of my life scheduled. You know something is wrong when you consider grocery shopping a personal activity instead of a family obligation.
Instead of jobbing, I did only what was absolutely necessary. The temperature was in the 40s, so I knew I needed to run my Webasto heater. You are supposed to run it at least once a month, but with all that was going on, I hadn’t run it for over six months. It initially faulted but then roared into action; soon, it was almost too hot in the van. That first night was a template for how I spent the entire weekend. I streamed videos, read my Kindle, listened to podcasts, and looked out of Violet’s windows.
I did some walking, and on Saturday morning, I was treated to a huge GMC pickup that almost ran me over. It was my friend, Tom, making a surprise and welcome visit. We chatted for a bit, and then he was on his way.
I observed my neighbor next door, who seemed to have the equivalent of a clown car camping trailer. Early morning, a man in his 50s exited the very small domicile. He was then joined by a man likely in his 40s. Then another man in his 20s. Then a woman, and another woman. Then a teenage girl, and then another girl. The trailer looked like it would be suitable for two adults, but somehow, it housed seven people! When they would come out of it, they seemed perfectly content, so I fantasized that it was like the Harry Potter tent. Small on the outside but magically gigantic on the inside.
I always have some emergency foods in the camper, but it doesn’t interest me. I had brought house food with me, but in my hurry, I neglected essential items, like butter. I had to make do with what I had and be a little creative in the process.
Since it was cold outside, I spent most of the weekend in Violet. My passenger seat can turn into the cabin, so I sat there, on Violet’s boot box, and (of course) on the bed. Reading, watching, listening, thinking. That is how I spend my entire weekend. Very unproductive, but just what I needed to do.
I’m writing this from my little study. Violet is just outside my window, waiting for her next adventure. Perhaps there is one more this season, a weekend trip with William. That is uncertain but exciting to contemplate.
I have a lot of possessions, but I don’t have a strong attachment to most of them. However, there are a few exceptions, Violet the campervan being one of them. She was right there when I needed her. Thank you, Violet!