Julia has been longing to go camping for 2,601 days (i.e. her entire life). She was born with the desire to camp. Her first word was tent. (Not really.) Lucy has wanted to go camping for as long as she has understood that Julia wants to go camping. Every day, all summer, I have been asked the question: “Can we go camping? Tonight? OUTSIDE? IN A TENT?!?!” And lo, my answer has been, “No, poor children, for we have no tent.”
Then, by some cosmic twist of fate (or that really big sign we saw on the side of the road), Saturday afternoon found us at a yard sale with a tent used only once by a barefoot and shirtless, tattooed man who was selling it for five dollars and Grandma with a crisp bill in her pocketbook.
It was a perfect storm for a dream come true.
I watched from the van as Grandma laid her money down, picked the tent up and placed it under her arm with a sly wink in my direction. The children were too busy making poop jokes in the backseat to notice the miracle unfolding. She slid into the passenger’s seat with lithely speed, like a thief making off with his take and shouted, “Let’s go!”
I slammed on the gas, but we stalled because the van does that. Lucy shouted, “You forgot to buckle me in!” Julia asked, “Can we get ice cream?” I remembered that I had to stop at the IGA.
Thirty minutes later, we were home. Grandma was shaking like the coyote on earthquake pills. She could take the anticipation no longer. “Girls! Do you want to see what I have for you?” she asked fumbling with the canvas bag behind her back. They swarmed her like bees. She paused to unfurl a toothy grin, then raised her arms, thrusting the tent over her head with a, “Ta da!”
And there was much rejoicing.
Once the squealing had ceased and my hearing was restored, Julia eagerly queried, “Can we put it up now?”
“I guess so.”
Eight minutes and two cuss words later, the tent stood proud near the playset.
For the next 13 minutes, the girls carted blankets and pillows and books and toys and an assortment of other junk from the house to the tent, then zipped up the door with a, “Bye, Mom!”
“Bye,” I called.
As I turned to make my way back to the house, a raindrop fell on my cheek. By the time I got inside and peeked out at the window, the rain was falling steadily. I barely breathed, “Oh no,” before I was silenced by a loud clap of thunder.
And after 3,746,188 minutes of trying to get in that tent, it only took them about 7 seconds to get out.