A patch of woods stood in the center of the field near the home where I grew up. I was never allowed to enter them but often during the winter or in early spring before planting, I would venture to their edges and peer in on the world there shadowed under the canopy above. I daydreamed about adventures in the depths of the shadows.
I devoured juvenile literature that had anything to do with exploring nature or adventures alone in the wilderness. All things I loved the most. Books and words. Being alone. Dreaming. And the woods.
I asked for a tent for my 7th birthday. A green pup tent that my dad slept with me in the yard one night. Another for my 15th birthday when I also received a lantern (that I still have, thanks Gram). I put it up in the backyard and tried to convince every friend and cousin to stay in it with me. I kept it up so long that the grass underneath the nylon floor began to brown (sorry Ma!).
I moved to college and left my tent and auxiliary accessories at home in the garage attic. There I discovered that I wasn't a lone crazy earth child who craved being outside more than going to the movies or well, pretty much anything else the average teen enjoyed. There were actually others like me! I slapped on (or is it squeezed?) a pair of climbing shoes and as my fingertips curled around a hold and I felt its roughness, I began to whole heartedly connect with who I really was for the first time.
I climbed, I camped, I rappeled from the rafters of the field building; I rafted and kayaked and zip lined to my hearts desire. I got a job working at a summer camp loving on kids and helping them to challenge themselves on the wall, on the ropes, or in the water. I was happy.
Then I met Jeremy. Not that he made me unhappy, definitely the opposite, it's just that our interests didn't jive. I remember one of our first conversations; I proclaimed that I could live in a tent and be happy the rest of my life. He stated that he would never camp and preferred his own bed. I shook my head and crossed his name off of the hypothetical list of potential husbands.
Years past. We were engaged, got hitched, were broke as church mice, had a baby, went nearly insane from lack of sleep thanks to said baby, moved a lot, finally bought a house, and had two boys. Last summer I took stock of why I was so unhappy. Was it jer? No, I loved him more than ever. Was is the kids? No, I felt called to being a mother. And even though there were rough times ( a daughter with some extreme sensory needs, a son with allergies), I loved my job. With more thought I determined that it wasn't where we lived, it wasn't our financial state, it wasn't anything of that sort. I wasn't even really unhappy, just not feeling whole.
My problem lied with my purple macpack backpack sitting in the garage attic and the fact that I hadn't put it on in over six years. Once I relieved Jeremy by telling him that essentially it wasn't his fault that I was feeling unhappy, he was glad to hear how he could help the situation. And ladies and gentlemen, I am seeing result of his proposed solution and the fruits of his labor as the UPS man brings me cardboard gifts of joy. Little golden nuggets from REI, GoLite, BigAgnes, and GSI.
I have hope that I can find and be the real me again, the one who craves the outdoors more than anything else AND experience it with my crazy fun loving kids and my husband who loves me enough to sleep on a 3/4 inch piece of foam.
Folks- I'm heading to the woods!