Birthday Part 1

For the past five years I've gone camping over my birthday weekend.  My mid-May birthday often falls on Mother's Day, but sometimes it'll be a Tuesday and I'll celebrate from Friday through Tuesday and I have no shame about it.

My first Birthday Camping trip, I camped alone.  I drove up to Kohler-Andrea outside Sheboygan.  I had with me the tent I received for my birthday in 4th grade.  

Side: my fourth grade birthday was fine.  I think I got a bookshelf or something and that was all well and good, but what I really wanted was a tent.  The night of my birthday, with a big sigh with a hint of disappointment for not receiving my tent, I removed myself from my typical spot on the couch and went to brush my teeth.  I came back down to join my family for our nighttime prayer and to say goodnight, and my mom asked me to fold my blanket or something.  I picked up the blanket.... and underneath was my Tent!! Joy!  We all went downstairs and set it up immediately.  I used that tent for many camping trips, often with my best friend Adrienne, whom I am fortunate enough to still be celebrating my birthday with!

I packed the sleeping bag that I had been using since memory begins.  I also packed a chair, a book, my journal, some food (about three heaping servings of campers stew/hobo dinner, whatever you call it), and two 40s of high life.  

The wood was wet.  It was cold.  I think it rained.  I slept on the ground and -surprise!- it was not comfortable!  I got drunk.  I was reading The Time Traveller's Wife and so I cried a lot.  I got really drunk.  I was so drunk that I called my mom while drunk.  (Who does that?)

Does this all sound pretty miserable?  Because this trip was truly miserable.  I was miserable.  I needed to say goodbye to part of my life that needed to be deleted and "empty trash," so when I say I was miserable, I mean actually miserable.  So I went camping.  Alone.  For my birthday.  And through all the misery, I was able to reconnect with myself.

I made a hot albeit smoky fire (granted with help over the phone from my dad and uncle who were at a different campground on my brother's bachelor camping trip).  I successfully cooked my three heaping servings of campers stew, and I ate it all.  I washed away all the bad with my tears.  A cardinal quietly visited me.  I was alone and happy.

The next year I had a new sleeping bag.

The year after that I had a new tent.

The year after that I had hiking shoes and wool socks.

The year after that I had a rain jacket.

And I'm not camping alone anymore on my birthday.  I surround myself with the best people in my life.  We hike.  We eat.  We drink.  We laugh together, and we get a little deep.

My dad isn't in this pic- he was taking a little nap!  And Adrienne and her bf Mike had already left, boo.

Every year I am grateful to have amazing people to share my time with, many of whom are not in this darling picture.