Unplugging and Reconnecting

Photo by Susan Fischbach Isaacs

For about the last ten years we’ve owned a fifth-wheel camper, and it still surprises folks who know me to find out I enjoy camping. Let’s say it’s pretty clear to even casual friends that I’m the opposite of outdoorsy and active. It surprises me a little bit that camping has such an allure. As I write this, we’re anticipating our first outing with the camper this year. It’s late-September. I know. It’s ridiculous. Other things just kept coming up this past spring and summer, other places to go, lots and lots of rain. We didn’t get out, and I’ve missed it. 

We camped some with our kids when they were little. We owned a travel trailer then; but as a family, we just weren’t good at camping. The kids didn’t enjoy it, and we sold the camper about 19 years ago. We started camping again about ten years ago in a rented pop-up with a group of friends from church. I have to think I was less-than-eager to make that first trip, knowing me as I do. But it took no time at all to fall in love with it this time — perhaps, in part, because the kids were older and able to entertain themselves — and as soon as we were empty-nesters we bought a fifth-wheel. Honestly, I’m not into roughing it. My minimum requirement is air conditioning and a potty. 

For me, my love of camping has not got as much to do with being in nature as it has to do with the pace of the day. In a camper in a state park with no cell service or Internet connection, there is virtually nothing to do. Household chores shrink with the size of the space. There is not much that needs to be dusted or vacuumed. There are fewer dishes to wash because most of the meal was cooked over the fire or in a slow cooker. Once the bed is made and the dishes washed, there is nothing to do but breathe in the peace of being un-busy and sit by the campfire. 

I have been aware since we got back into it that camping includes an element of escapism that appeals greatly to me. Over the past many years, there have been times when I consciously wanted to avoid being at home, so in some ways maybe getting away was not the healthiest way to deal with the issues at home. But over time most of those things have been dealt with — or I have a new way to look at them; and maybe that’s in part because we did get some distance once-in-a-while, where we could clear our heads and have real conversations without being distracted by a screen (we’re both guilty — squirrel!).  

This summer Dean and I have gotten to spend quite a lot of time together, but those days have been filled with such busy-ness — visiting family and friends, going on vacation with friends to a new place — that it sometimes feels like we’re apart together. Most of our summer has passed in the context of other people; but what we have discovered, as life has moved as it does these last years and more of our camping trips have been just the two of us, is that the two of us are great together when there are no distractions. There is something about being in new surroundings (we discovered the same recently at a coffee shop new-to-us) that helps us to see each other anew.

That’s what I have missed this year with no camping. I count on that time where the phone isn’t going to call Dean away to help a friend, and I am unable to distract myself on the Internet. We are both getting better at working toward serenity without relying on running away from home, but it’s still going to be a treat to get our camping season started. I look forward to reconnecting to peace and with my husband.