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Camping at Big Sur

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Camping at Big Sur

Went camping this weekend with our go-to couple for all things couple-related, Matt and Angela.  I remember when I told Matt, who already had a daughter, that Justine and I were expecting a couple years ago, he had a smirk.  "Welcome to the other side of that line," he said.  The line that separates the child-ed from the childless. And ain't it the truth, brother.  Since Holden was born, there have been no more invites to keggers.  No wild Halloween bashes.  No one is getting drunk for Spring Break down in Mexico.  Since I pretty much hate all that shit anyway, it hasn't been a very difficult transition for me (it's been much harder for Justine, who likes being social), and the kid is a glorious built-in excuse to get out of shit I never wanted to do in the first place ("House warming?  Why, I'd love to come to your crappy housewarming and eat your shitty carb-heavy hors d'oevres, but you know, it's very important the baby keeps his sleep schedule...").  As you've probably gleaned from this blog, I ain't much of a people person.

It takes a lot to get me to leave my house, and generally the thought of camping and sleeping in the dirt with worms and bugs for two days is right up there with getting tested for chlamydia and listening to Pearl Jam (or any band where the singer singing sounds like he's taking a shit).  But I like Matt and Angela.  Quite a bit.  I was happy to make an exception here, because it was Matt's birthday, and the older I get, the less I feel like making new friends.

I don't require a lot of the people in my life.  I was telling my shrink yesterday, the reason I can have friends walking out of my life and not really miss a beat is because friends fulfill various roles for me.  Matt and I were quite close once upon a time.  Then I did drugs and we lost touch.  I found other friends with whom I also shared witty pop culture banter and for whom I felt a similar brotherly kinship and affinity to take his place, and then right about the time they were getting on my nerves, I reconnected with Matt, and he got plugged back into his original role.  I don't need three Matts in my life.  I don't even need two.  Just the one will do.  It's kind of like when Lacy Gorsenson came back to reclaim the role that was originally hers on Rosanne (from Becky Two, the delectable Sarah Chalke).

Anyway, we all went down to Big Sur to camp, the whole combined clan: two dads, two moms, three kids, and two dogs.  Justine had been trying me to go camping with her since we met.  But our ideas of camping are as radically different as our ideas of traveling abroad.  Whereas Justine likes doing things on the cheap and doesn't mind sharing toilets in hostels with smelly kids who don't regularly bathe, Joe has spent all the time he is ever going to spend with squalor.  When you have lived at Hepatitis Heights (, there ceases to be any romance in slumming it.  I want 4 stars and high thread counts.

For this trip, we did tent cabins.  Which is basically some posts, two-by-fours, and canvas.  And it was fucking cold at night.  So we had to let our son, Holden, sleep with us.  'Cause he's only 14 months and he wasn't having the Pac 'n' Play (more on this later). 

I am a city boy, through and through.  I grew up in the country, on sprawling acreage with a big ol' pond in the back and pulling pike from the crik.  We had deep woods and rolling hills and amber meadows of frosted grain and every other Robert Frost trope.

And it never meant shit to me.  Fishing, camping, hiking.  I did it.  Because everyone in my town did it, at one time or another.  But when I got to the city, I finally felt at home amidst the cold concrete.  I'd talk with my mom about this, back when she was alive, because she was always trying to get me to come back home, and I'd have to explain to her that I was never going back to the country...

I want to go back to the country.  I am sick to death of the city.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the simplicity of a few days without phone or Internet or being able to check my fantasy football roster (fuck you, Peyton Hillis.  Again).  I have to admit there was a whole rustic charm to the weekend. Cooking meat over a fire.  Playing the guitar by firelight.  Feeding Holden lots of chocolate and watching him run spastic around the camp grounds (not to mention Lucky Dog getting yelled at for being off leash and running into the manager's office).

And it's 'cause of the boy.  It's like primal shit, communing out in nature with your son.  We've been doing it for generations.  Showing the kid how to fish and hunt (or if you're from San Francisco, how to cuddle a fish and mold tofu).  I never knew what I missed.  Because my dad was sort of a douche and didn't bother doing that stuff with me.  If I went hiking or camping it was with friends.  Which is a shame. You really need to do that stuff with your father.  My father took my younger brother to hunt and fish, and as a result I grew up hating it.  And pretty much all of nature.  And the environment.  And I am not saying I'm back to being all, "Oh, no, Styrofoam!"  But it did get me to start thinking in different ways about my job as a father, which is pretty much my most important job now.

Like I said, Holden wouldn't sleep in the Pac 'n' Play, it was too cold, so he had to sleep in the bed with us.  And he ain't an easy kid to sleep with, tossing, turning, snoring, crying.  The first night was pretty much hell, so it was hard to look forward to sleeping with the kid the second night.  And he started in with the same stuff.  It was around 2 a.m., and I hadn't gotten much much rest, and at that point I was trying to think of ways I could put the kid back and maybe wrap him in extra blankets.  I must've dozed off for a minute or two, because I woke up with Holden curled into me, his little hands clutching his dad's arms, head on my shoulder, conked out.  And I fell back asleep like that.  And I slept like, well, a baby.

Not sure our next trip, but I can see me and the boy maybe going to Yosemite and hunting elk someday.  I mean, if they have elk.  And if they let you hunt.  And the stupid stipulations of my plea agreement let me buy a gun again.  Or maybe we'll go deep sea fishing.  Justine, who is a vegetarian, will never let us hang the elk's head or frame the large mouth bass above the TV (where either would look perfect).  But maybe it isn't about the killing part as much as it is about the experience.

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At October 25, 2011 at 10:08 AM , Blogger Justine said...

Great post Joe. My favorite part of sleeping with him was when he was scared in the dark so he kissed his mom and dad. Adorable.

At October 31, 2011 at 8:37 AM , Blogger Angela said...

I am just catching up with things between house guests. This sums up the romance of the country for me. We had a great time with you guys. Real World 41, baby!


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