"You have these lofty fantasies, and you see them as tangibles when they're really just delusional."
My husband, ladies and gentlemen.
He has said some version of this statement many times over the 14 years we have been together, including yesterday, when the above quote was stated after I suggested we spend the summer traipsing around Italy and Morocco, making money (and wine) by encouraging our high-energy children to stomp on grapes. Other apparently delusional ideas include my lofty fantasy of living in a Westfalia and driving around Patagonia for the rest of our lives, as well as my fantasy of refurbishing an old pirate ship and bringing back the good ol' sport of pillaging. He has little interest in my Antarctica expedition or in being the first family to walk the entire Appalachian Trail with a 4-year-old, a 19-month-old and an 18-pound rabbit. He, the ever-rational one, considers the kids' education and our lack of being able to provide them with one if we were to remove them from school to become professional tree-huggers. He thinks about how the kids' social skills and social graces would be impacted if we were to be adopted by a tribe of mandrills, which is on my bucket list. He thinks it would be weird if our kids picked bugs out of their friends' hair; I think it would be an excellent assurance they would never come home with lice. I get told "no" a lot. And I don't like it.
But, to be fair, I am given more yeses than noes. He was one of the few who didn't think I was delusional when I said I wanted to become a television writer. And though he probably thought I was delusional when I said I wanted to leave the life we had built and move into the wild, he strapped on his Walden Pond boots and got packing. And a number of these intangibles he, being the quintessential yin to my yang, doesn't just take on reluctantly; rather, he takes them on proactively. For example, he booked us a camping trip on an island five hours away for this past weekend.
If you are like me, you will see nothing lofty about taking your young children camping. If you're like my husband, you'll disagree, but he booked it anyway. It was our first time camping with both kids.
While I set up the tent, one child tried to touch the fire, and the other sat in a patch of poison ivy. There were streets to run into, trails to explore, coolers to unpack, marshmallows to throw onto the dirt, fire ants to eat and DEET bug spray to drink. That first night, as the sun quickly set and the mosquitoes buffeted on our exposed bodies and my kids made up a million and one ways to kill themselves, I had the sinking feeling this might wind up being yet another one of those lofty fantasies that wind up ranking in the delusional category.
Spoiler alert: It was.
Though I am a seasoned camper, I had never before been to this pocket of the United States. The weather remained so hot and humid, even into the late hours of the night, that you could not tolerate staying in the tent. The mosquitoes and ticks were so insatiable — neither fire nor citronella nor DEET nor long sleeves could stymie their bite — that you could not tolerate staying outside the tent. The kids couldn't sleep. The fire pit didn't have a grill, so we couldn't eat. We were hot, sticky, cranky and itchy.
My husband apologized. He was sorry the weekend wasn't as I had fantasized. And it wasn't. And this isn't the part where I say it was even better because somewhere in our state of mutual sweating and malaria our family bonded. Sometimes you have to learn your lesson, and that's just not real life.
But this is:
Looking for something to do before darkness absorbed the second evening, I suggested we chase the setting sun. The twists and turns through the campground led us to a family-sized porch swing with a perfect, unobstructed view of the sun setting over the water. We sat there, the four of us, swinging our feet, slapping our legs and itching our arms. Looking over the water, I said, "I read there aren't mosquitoes in Nairobi. Why don't we move there?"
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.