Christmas 2011 I was gifted “The Calendar of Awesome” for 2012, a tear-away version of Neil Pasricha’s blog and best-selling books. Every day would offer a moment or observation to make you reflect, maybe smile, or admit “yeah, that IS pretty awesome.” At the very least, it made me consider that just living each day and experiencing life from the extraordinary to the mundane is incredibly awesome.
However, the entry for April 2 made me take a step back and seriously rethink the sanity of the calendar’s creator. On this particular day, I flipped the page to read these words:
“The sound of rain from inside a tent.”
I became so unnerved and enraged by this entry that I ripped the page from the glue binding it to the calendar and tore it to shreds. The combination of “rain” plus “tent” do not equal “awesome.” Rather, this sentiment should be found in the Calendar of Emosewa. Yes, that’s awesome spelled backwards and as the opposite of awesome, would describe things that totally suck.
I’ve had more than my share of experiences to argue otherwise. I grew up camping and have definitely slept in more campgrounds than hotels. As a baby, I got my start in tents until my parents eventually upgraded to a pop-up camper. There are many happy memories of summer vacations sleeping in the great outdoors, not to mention campfires, toasting marshmallows and eating s’mores.
It only seemed appropriate to suggest on one long-distance call to the U.K. that we register for camping equipment as wedding gifts. Nine years later, we are on our second tent. The reason behind the purchase of the second tent? Rain.
In 2006, we took our first tent on our first long camping expedition to Kentucky and Tennessee. Keeping a wary eye on ominous darkening grey clouds pressing in closer overhead, we pitched our tent in a campground a few miles away from Mammoth Caves, Kentucky. Working quickly, we zipped up the door and sought refuge from the storm in the rec house. As we ate our sandwiches, I grew increasingly anxious as the rain fell in droves. A fellow camper crashed through the door of the rec house soaking wet and declared that tents were down. I raised my eyebrow in panic, wondering about the state of our tent.
When the skies cleared enough for us to venture out to our site and survey the damage, it was with great relief to find our tent still standing. Further inspection showed the only damage was a few cracks in one of the cross poles that we repaired and reinforced with duct tape.
That trip cemented my hatred for rain – the mountain deluges we endured in Tennessee were some of the most powerful, sudden rainstorms I’d ever seen.
I suppose a light drizzle upon the canvas may be relaxing, but when the drizzle becomes a downpour and it’s you marooned in a tent with a plethora of paper towel rolls and a flashlight as your only means to combat the elements, I’d say relaxation is the furthest thing from your mind. You become stressed and worried, convinced that you’ll be found floating miles away inside your tent. You glare and mutter menacing threats at other campers tucked safely inside hard-body trailers who are much less vulnerable against the rain and the storm than you in a tent.
Most of the storms we’ve encountered come at night. I curl up in my sleeping bag, listening to crickets chirping, leaves rustling. All is calm. All is quiet. The next moment, I’m violently torn from slumber as thunder cracks and my husband shines a flashlight on every corner of our shelter, searching for the dreaded puddles.
After one too many rainstorms, our second tent boasts a “bathtub bottom” with seams off the ground. This is helpful, but still not foolproof.
I woke one morning in this tent after a restless stormy night. Putting my hand on the ground as I rolled off the air mattress, I feared that we’d been sleeping on a waterbed. The earth beneath us sloshed with every step as we walked gingerly towards the tent door to peer outside. We were in the middle of a flood. There was so much water that a quarter of our car tire was submerged.
So, I turn back to that Calendar of Awesome and say respectfully, that yes, although I’m inside the tent and not outside in the rain, I assure you: there’s nothing awesome about this at all.