Breaking Camp

It’s autumn in New Orleans, which basically means it’s just the same as summer except with football and Halloween costumes.

I love football and Halloween costumes, so that part is fine with me.

I don’t even mind when the temperature dips a little bit. My decade in the frigid Midwest made me wary of autumn – because it’s deceptively beautiful, the gorgeous scarlet and golden leaves hiding the fact that they are about to die and leave the trees ugly and bare for months while you huddle inside under blankets and despair of ever seeing color in the landscape again. They only fooled me once. After that, I didn’t trust nature that far north.

But here? Here it doesn’t even get chilly until late November and then only for a day or so at a stretch. I actually get excited for the few days a year when I can stay in and make soup and bread in flannel PJ pants and fuzzy socks.

“I’m so ready for soup weather!” I said to a friend last week. “I have a whole folder on my computer of soup recipes I want to try, plus this loaf of bread with a spiral of caramelized onion inside.”

“Mmm, that sounds good,” she said. “But what I’m really pumped about is that it’s finally going to be camping weather again. If we go camping later this fall, do y’all want to come?”

I just looked at her. I thought I knew her. I thought she knew me. I thought we understood each other. But clearly, clearly we did not.

I do lots of outdoorsy things. I like the park and the sculpture garden. I like riding my bike. Picnics are awesome, especially when they include wine and cheese. I take the occasional hike. I don’t live a life of complete sloth and indolence.

But what I don’t do is camp. Outdoors is for recreation. Outdoors is not for sleeping, cooking, or pooping in a hole.

There are certain things I need in my life, and they include an actual mattress with a white noise machine and my blankets and pillows all in the right order, inside four walls with a roof over my head and behind a locked door. They also include running water and electricity and, ideally, decent WiFi.

I’ve gone without these things before, of course, during hurricanes, and I’ve even camped before – in my childhood, before I had any say in the matter.

But doing it by choice, now, as an adult who is deeply set in my persnickety ways? No, thank you.

I know that many people love camping. My friend above, for instance. My older kid, who spends three weeks a year at summer camp in a cabin with no air conditioning. My husband, who took multiple “outdoor ed” courses in high school – by choice – and still remembers them fondly.

Now my younger kid has gotten it into her head that she might enjoy camping. My mother, God rest her soul, was also a camping enthusiast, and she left a tent and a camp stove and a sleeping bag behind in a storage unit I’m slowly emptying, and when Georgia saw it, she started clamoring to go sleep out under the stars.

I’ve done a lot for my kids. I’ve slept on the floor when they were sick. I’ve saved and sacrificed for Christmas presents they just had  to have. I’ve made birthday cakes to exact specifications, and I’ve driven as far as Florida for various extracurricular activities. I would die for them, without question.

But camping? That’s out of the question, sorry. In the immortal words of the late, great Meat Loaf: “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That.)”