Thursday, February 10, 2011

how I got here

I snuggle down and pull the sleeping bag over my shoulder and up to my ear. I had forgotten how warm this thing is. I am pretty comfortable.

I can't sleep, though, because Girl-three is still complaining through the crib slats, just behind my head. But she's winding down, now that I'm here.

My mind grows legs and walks back in time, settling into a night nine years ago when these very covers were much too warm.

I'm positioned similarly, but I have the sleeping bag pulled all the way over my head, sealing me in. Or rather -- sealing them out.

The mosquitoes.

I'm lying on a picnic table in the Everglades, buried deep in my down-filled sleeping bag. Sweating.

It sounds crazy, I know. Perhaps you are wondering how I got here.

During my sophomore year in college, decided I needed to get away. John and I had just broken up. I was starting my engineering classes and balking at the career in front of me. I needed a break from the path I was walking. So I joined Americorps NCCC and spent 10 months hopping around the southeast from service project to service project. {Missing home. Missing John. Finding myself. -- But oh, that's a different story.}

We were heading back from our project in the Florida Keys and we stopped for a weekend in the Everglades to pick up some service hours and experience the place. The night we arrived, we set up camp and everyone hunkered down. But there were mosquitoes trapped inside the fabric of my tent and they whined in my ears. It seemed like everyone else was snoring. I tossed and turned and started to feel desperate.
It has to be better outside. 

I unzipped the tent and hauled my stuff out there. But it didn't take long for them to find me down in the grass. So I headed for higher ground -- the camp picnic table.

Higher, lower, it didn't matter. I was spread out like a feast.

Sleep never came. I listened to the night sounds for a very long time. I saw myself at the bottom of the food chain -- my blood fed the mosquitoes, who fed the bats swooping over my head. Dawn was a relief.

I vowed never to camp out under the stars in the Everglades again. But if you would have told me then that I'd be camping out on the floor in my baby's room in this same sleeping bag,  I would have laughed at you.

Now that's crazy.

I would have laughed even harder if you had mentioned the baby's two older sisters would be sleeping in the other room. I mean, I knew I wanted kids. But three? By 30? I pictured myself doing a lot of backpacking.


Girl-three is finally asleep and I'm drifting off myself. Maybe I'll unwrap out of this sleeping bag and crawl back in my own bed. Maybe I won't. I'm pretty comfortable right where I am.