Growing up my parents would pack me and my two siblings up to go camping every year. It was always over a weekend and we have a family reunion in between. When I was little I really enjoyed the experience but as I grow into a moody teen I set up a PlayStation in a tent and never leave. As depression took over my life, I sneak off at night to cry. They were beautiful quiet nights. My sobs mixed with only the sounds of frogs and crickets. However, I remember distinctly secretly wishing someone would hear me.
It has been a few years since then, and another family reunion has come up. I decided to try camping on my own this past weekend. I now have my own car, my own tent, my own money, I thought I surely be able to recapture some of the glory of my childhood. My Sister had similar ideas and was already planning a trip of her own as I was mine. We would have a chance to see each other for the first time in nearly a year.
The first thing I noticed about all of this was just how much effort my parents put into it. Booking a campsite, bringing food, water, clothes, soap, toothbrushes, and every other little thing that makes the experience a little more comfortable. I arrived on my own early Friday and was proud of my little set up. Things were going well. I managed to go for a swim in the pool and even strike up conversation with strangers despite my anxiety. My sister arrived in the evening with her boyfriend and we had a good time catching up. I made hotdogs over a fire.
Then I was alone in my tent, and all I wanted to do was collapse and cry. The sense of loneliness that filled my heart was like a dagger. I texted my mother for support before finally falling asleep. The next day was the family reunion. Frankly I was disinterested in the whole affair. It was nice to see my grandmother, my aunt, and cousins, but I had little to say to any of them really. It was hot, and exhausting. I must of sweat my weight in water. The reunion was wrapping up when it started to rain for an hour. I ran around to secure my sight so that the rain would not ruin anything before the rain stopped anyway.
Perhaps it was the heat, or dealing with the social aspects of family but I broke. I could only sob uncontrollably. I wanted to run away. I managed to walk for a while, the woods where pretty and reminded me of the times me and my brother would explore them. I followed a trail to a winery near the campground before walking back. It was here I made up my mind to just leave the campground. I turned some mail I needed to give my sister over, she was swimming in the pool, and quickly walked away embarrassed. I hid in the woods, my back against a tree hiding from my sister and from myself. I was having a full on panic attack. I imagined what it be like to hang myself from one of the trees in front of me. I traded some emotional texts with my brother, mother, and sister. The sun came down while I was hiding behind that tree. Bugs crawled along my legs but I did not care anymore.
I walked back to my campsite without any light and packed up my tent and things and got in my car. I drove past my sisters campsite, gave her a hug and drove away. Sobbing and crying along the way. I had to pull over to the side of the road to wipe my tears more than once. When I was about fifteen minutes from the campground I pulled over once more. I could only think that “If only I just jumped into the pool with my sister that we could have swam, made s’mores by the fire and everything would’ve been ok.” I know I was running away, all i wanted to do was run away. I felt humiliated about how emotional I got, making me feel even worse. I called my mom, as if asking for permission if it was ok if I just turned around and forget it all happened. My sister was still up, sitting by a fire, I still had a little time to change the outcome of the night. I turned the car around, went back to the campsite. I went to my sister campsite and managed to enjoy a bit of time by the fire.
I never did put back up my tent, I slept in my car with my feet hanging out the window. I was able to go for one last swim in the pool with my sister before we had to leave the campground. It was a stressful weekend over all. I feel like I made a fool of myself the whole time. However I did manage to scrape together a better ending than what could of been thanks to the support of my family.