Preemptive PSA: The following post is not the normal recap post–that one is still to come–and, fair warning, this post is going to be ALL ABOUT ME.
If you don’t like reading confessional posts about meltdowns, skip this one. You have been warned. And if you DO like reading confessional posts about meltdowns, what is WRONG with you?? Just kidding, make some popcorn and settle in.
The turn for the worse started at midnight when a certain effluent urgency began to assert itself. We’ve been “keeping hydrated,” so Len was feeling a similar urge. Being a man, he quickly addressed the matter and climbed back into the trailer. And I have to say, at times like this, I am hit hard by the great injustice that exists between male and female plumbing when it comes to evacuation in the woods. There, I’ve said it. Use the word “envy” if you must, I’ll own it. All the rest of the time, mind you, dangly plumbing just seems awfully inconvenient and slightly dangerous–but in the woods, I envy it in the worst way.
I should also say here that I consider myself somewhat of an expert at peeing in the woods. I’ve been doing it ever since I learned to walk, and probably even before that if I was ever carried into the woods, as a babe, which I surely was. (See what I did there?) But last night I just wasn’t feeling it. It was a wooded campground, but the moon was out and very bright and it was also quite cold and very late and the bathroom was 1/4 of a mile away. So I stepped out and Len assured me that I was nothing more than a dark smudge against the black trees. So I squatted and did what Nature would have me do–in a slightly more awkward and gymnastic position than is my usual, because I was trying to take full advantage of the tree’s shadow. Then I climbed back into the trailer … only to find that the left cuff of my flannel pajama pants was wet. Okay, soaked would be more accurate.
Somehow, this was the straw that broke this twitchy camel’s back. Long days, rough days, blazing hot days, cold nights, near-constant dusty winds, a new site every night, a hinky cookstove, and altitude sickness all combined to push me over the edge. But I was in a very small, very quiet trailer, very close to my dear husband who has looked forward to this trip for so long that I really didn’t want to cry. Except I DID want to cry–in the worst way. But I didn’t. I tossed my wet-cuffed sleep pants out the door onto the ground and I lay there, silently berating my poor aim, and determinedly not crying for hours.
(Also there’s this: I’m a super private crier. Lots of people want a shoulder. I don’t. I want a small room with a locked door, preferably soundproof walls, and lots of tissues. I want to emerge later, face washed and emotionally cleansed, ready to get back into the swing of the world. Crying, for me, is not so unlike that earlier midnight urge. It comes on, and I gotta find a way to make it happen–preferably in private.)
Morning finally came (43 degrees and windy), and if anything, I felt an even greater desire to have that good, cleansing cry, so I decided to brave the campground shower, which would at least have a door and a little bit of privacy and some sound-muffling water. I also knew (from checking the night before) that the shower would cost me 25 cents a minute. For two dollars, I figured I could get in an efficient 8-minute Wash-N-Cry.
So I did all the prep work one has to do in a public shower prior to turning on $.25/minute water. I stripped down, put on shower shoes, arranged towel and washcloth, shampoo and soap, a spot for dry clean clothes, a spot for dirty clothes (never the twain shall meet), jacket, hiking boots, and socks, all arranged just so, to avoid the spray from a cement-no-curtain cubicle shower. It’s trickier than you might imagine. Then I dropped in my eight quarters full of optimism and ready to shed some serious and speedy tears. Hello, catharsis.
The initial water was ice cold, of course. I get that it has to warm up, even if there is NOWHERE TO HIDE in a cold cement cubicle. Then, ah, some blissfully warm water, so I went ahead and wetted down everything in preparation for speed-lathering. For a good thirty seconds I actually had warm water–12 1/2 cents worth of warm water, to be exact. But at thirty-ONE seconds, a switch flipped somewhere, and instead of warm water, I was delivered Rocky Mountain snowmelt, direct from the distant peaks.
Now, I realize that a certain kind of person finds a cold shower exhilarating–perhaps even intoxicating–but I am decidedly NOT that person. This, following so closely on the heels of the midnight pee tragedy was almost more than I could take. I washed my hair–part only–as my scalp reduced in size by one-third, thanks to the great contracting powers of frigid water, then turned off the shower and listened (with no small amount of frustration) to the timer count off my remaining seven minutes (no refunds) as I redressed and held back what was now a Hoover Dam size amount of unshed tears.
Back at the campsite, shivering, I asked Len if he’d had hot water. “You didn’t?” he said, shocked, as he reached forward to offer me a hug and that was all it took to breach the dam. Not that I wanted him to have had a cold shower, mind you, but I really didn’t want to continue feeling cursed above all others in the universe (which is how self-pity feels, no matter the actual size or weight of the problem—I realize this was such a minor thing to lose my shit over, but I did). I climbed into the trailer to try to get warm, and cried buckets, giving new meaning to the term teardrop trailer. I’m sure the trailer was rocking from the force of my heaving bosom and poor Len was making coffee as fast as he could, hoping to both warm me up and calm me down. He was fixing it on the fender of the trailer, and when I saw his shadow take a sip from the cup, Poor Pitiful Me was certain he had made his own coffee first and here–here!–was further proof that I was unlovable after all. (My pity breaks are brief, but ridiculously intense–I’m just trying to bring you along for the ride.)
Anyway, it was all over quickly enough and I moved on, slightly sheepish, through the rest of the day, which was extraordinary and lovely in the way of the weird emotional-highs-and-lows-world we live in. I will recount THAT in another post, with pictures, thereby allowing the emotionally squeamish to still hear about our day without having to wade through my bucket of tears.
Those of you still here, thanks for going on the journey with me. I just felt it important to note that even the best of trips are not all sweetness and light. Stay tuned for the actual Day Six Recap.