I think it’s fair to say that unless my luck really goes south to the point where I’ve lost it all and am living out on the streets, I’ve spent my last night in a tent.
In some ways, I feel a little melancholy about the decision because it’s the end of an era of fond memories.
It’s also the end of an era of not-so-fond memories such as waking up in the middle of night by water dripping on my face, or sleepless nights when the temperature is as warm as Death Valley with humidity like a rain forest or staying up all night lying perfectly still as I try to eye the mosquito that was buzzing my ears.
I’ve slept in tents all my entire life. During Boy Scout days we would defy logic by camping in February to earn a Polar Bear patch. My tent-mate at the time happened to be a Marine who could sleep through the bombing of Iraq, so a little bit of cold wasn’t stopping him from snoring.
Of course he had all the proper gear while I covered up in a Ronco sleeping bag that was almost as thick as a Hefty trash bag. I would occasionally nod off only to be snapped awake by my teeth chattering and the pneumonia kicking in.
My wife and I started out sleeping on the ground, using inch-thick pads that kept rolling up and would never stay flat. That lasted one trip. Then we bought an inflatable mattress. It was great, until about the third trip where it started losing air and we’d wake up on the cold, hard ground.
Then I had the grand idea of stacking two inflatable mattresses on top of each other. That worked well until they slid apart and we found each other on either side of the tent.
Finally, I broke down and bought the mother of all inflatable mattresses. This thing had its own built-in pump. It was so tall I needed a step ladder to get on. When we settled in, the ceiling of the tent was almost touching our noses.
But in the end, it’s still an air mattress. And no matter how I tried, it’s impossible to avoid the jumps.
It was like one of those bounce houses where you create a crater and people are sucked in. That’s where I found my wife every time I sat up. That or she was flung onto the side of the tent when I laid down too hard.
One morning, I fell outside the tent and tried to straighten crooked elbows and knees when I looked over and saw shiny, happy people emerge from a nearby cottage where the sun shined above.
They were smiling and in good moods and called each other “sweetie.” They stretched normally and happily, like they had been sleeping on a regular bed instead of a bounce house.
I hated them. And then I realized that we, too, can enjoy camping in one of those cottages. So we made reservations.
Which I suppose was more civil than my original idea of forcing them out by sending in a rabid raccoon.
Ray Kisonas is the regional editor of The Daily Telegram and The Monroe News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.