Monday, February 6, 2012

Mecca, Terms of Endearment, and Why it Will Be Hard to Leave

I meant to only stay for the day. Instead, I stayed through the night in the woods in the middle of winter in west of nowhere bumfuck. Yep, I did it willingly and on purpose: winter camping. This was not the warm cozy cabin one might initially imagine when thinking of camping in the winter. Instead, it was a small 3-walled lean-to (which 10 of us slept in on the straw covered floor) with a fireplace a few feet away from the opening. 

The weather was beautiful. Really. I know it sounds ridiculous in the middle of winter, but well, just look- I can't possibly begin to explain.

This was the first time I've been camping in years. It was absolutely sublime- not only because of the weather and great company, but because it was a brief reprieve from the chaos of daily life. My phone died, I had no access to a computer, all of the stuff I had to do couldn't possibly be done from there, and I was completely content. I could breathe. There was the world without all of our modern conveniences (including a bathroom) laid out before me in a grand display of complete and utter simplicity.

A crisp crystal clear night brought out an array of stars so often forgotten in the pollution of our artificial light I couldn't help but sit in silence happy to just be alive. So alive. A friend likened this event to a trip Mecca- I now see why. What sounds like wild inconvenient torture to many is sacred ground to others.

Here I was warmed by a blazing fire, all of my needs provided for (which was astounding considering I brought virtually nothing to stay and camp), and surrounded by wonderful people.

Speaking of wonderful people- I had just met some of these people for the first time, but was apparently well-received. Allow me to reveal to you how I found out.

SPAM. No, not the kind that rudely shows up in your inbox threatening some vague doom on your life-  the kind that comes in a can. I thought I had learned the intricate roles this product played during my time in Hawaii. I also thought that was the end of the meaty road for disagreeable sounding brick o' animal product. But, my friends, I was enlightened on a few levels this weekend during the winter camping trip.

1. SPAM is NOT the end of the road. In fact, it actually sounds appealing after what I found in my backpack. What did I find? Ready for this? A tiny round can of.... potted meat product. Yes, please, observe the "delicacy" I found tucked away in the bottom of my bag:

2. Contrary to one's potential initial reaction of disgust in finding that this little gourmet gem has been graciously "gifted" (concealed) in one's belongings- it is actually a term of endearment. I suppose it is the friendship equivalent of a boy throwing dirt at a girl he likes. Now we hide cans of mechanically separated meats in each other's bags.

I had actually managed to slip this gift into a friend's bag before departing the next day; however, as you can see from the picture- the can is indeed sitting on top of my kitchen counter. No, this little can was not carefully slipped in as I left. Instead, it made the long journey back from camp to find it's way into my purse at dinner this evening. I found it upon my arrival back home.

I know- it seems silly and ridiculous, but it's little things like this that cause me to stop and be grateful for my life and the people in it. These funny little moments, while seemingly insignificant on their own, combine to weave the story of our lives. They give our lives meaning and significance in a way that often goes unnoticed and unappreciated.

While I often sound as though I'm ready to bolt out of here like a bat out of hell, there is a part of me that feels a deep sadness in the decision to leave. I have fantastic friends, and have made several new ones the last few months. Over the years, I've learned just how important our relationships are with each other. I would give everything I have to the people I love, and there are so many here who have my heart. It makes it hard to go. But, I know I will be a better person to and for the people I love if I go out and show myself what it is to live fearlessly and completely. When my wars with myself are over, I will have so much more to give.

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