An Ode to Camping Gear. And finding the “Us” that holds.

I am willing to travel across the country just to show up at your door and tell you this: I’ve got camping gear.

Yes, that’s right. Camping Gear.

I know I have it somewhere cramped up in the attic. Wedged between a few lawn reindeer and some worthless pieces of junk that my father insists on classifying as antiques.

A tent. Two sleeping bags. That’s all we need right?

Can I have five minutes? I just need five minutes to find the dumb camping gear.

Wait for me, please? It won’t take too long.

You are shaking your head. Like that won’t do? Like we cant pitch a tent somewhere between my backyard and yours and, for once, let Distance slip away before your hand slips from mine?

Target then. There is a Target right down the road. We could pile into the car right this second and be there before that little hand on your watch even laps the bigger one twice.

An air mattress. We’ll buy one. Blow that sucker up. I’ll even let you take the bed and I’ll sleep on the floor. Does that sound better than the camping gear?

Please don’t turn.

Don’t walk away just yet. I have other ideas. Jeepers, I’ve been filling notebooks with all sorts of ideas.

You’re saying it won’t do any good to hear them. I know that. But could we just pretend for a moment that it might do us some good? That we might be capable of sticking our heads together and coming up with an excellent plan where Miles and Stones and Milestones wouldn’t get between us.

You know, it’s really easy to tap out how much I miss you over the phone. Tap. Tap. Tap. Done.

But I need 140 characters and then some kind of eternity to show you how it feels to know I won’t be seeing you soon. That it’s already been too long. That you have not even found the doorknob yet and I’m already stringing the syllables to beg, turn back around. I don’t think I like it very much, saying those kinds of things.

I. Won’t. Be. Seeing. You. Soon. It feels all kinds of awful rolling off the tongue.

This whole growing up thing, I don’t know how much I like that either. It would probably be easier–better– if the automobile had never been invented. Or buses. Or trains. Or any kind of thing that left us gripping a map and going separate ways.

Or cellphones. Or pens to write letters. Or stamps to mail them with. Or any kind of method that left us staying in touch without the touching. Or that life would be bearable on different sides of the country or in separate parts of the world. Our that the world was the kind of thing we needed to see, that arms couldn’t hold us here forever. That’d we’d be ok as pen pals or friends who only see each other once in a while. I’ll warn you right now: the Once shows up a lot more than the While.

I’ve been waiting for you by the door.

I mean, Boston is pretty on you. You make Chicago look damn good. You wear San Diego like a scarf.  & I’m just a girl who got New York to coo in her ear louder than any other set of skyscrapers but who never got over the fact that we cannot smack the cities together and play neighbors for a while.

I’d bring you sugar. You could borrow flour.

And we could stop talking about Growing Up as if he were a Lover, a tall and handsome Lover, who’s already broken our hearts six thousand times and yet we still take to crawling back to try it all over again.

You know, there are certain bones within me that want to see you fly. At least find your wings. & learn how it feels to flap them. I’ve always wanted that.

& those same parts of me want to find my own wings too. & feel the breeze on November mornings. & to know that if Life called me to live without you then I would somehow be ok with that.

And then there are other bones, the not-so-funny bones, that wish you and I could just find some moment to call our own.

A moment where we wouldn’t be leaving. Or walking. Or thinking at all.

No going. No planning. No growing at all.

It wouldn’t need to last long. A few seconds or so. Just long enough to believe that one day we’ll stop scratching this itch that tears the “You” from the “Me” and find ourselves sitting on some front porch with sweet tea in our hands saying things just like this:

It was good to see the world. The Whole Wide World. We learned quite a lot, wouldn’t you agree? From all those Miles and Stones and Milestones between us. But look, look, we have finally found an Us and I don’t want to see it go.  Us. It tastes sweet, sweeter than anything I’ve tasted in a while. It tastes like some kind of tomorrow that I’ve been looking for.

So I’ll tell you one more time, I’ve got camping gear somewhere in my attic.

It should  only take me five minutes to find it.

12 thoughts on “An Ode to Camping Gear. And finding the “Us” that holds.

  1. heart tuggingly Beautiful, as always. thank you. Love love love the line, “& I’m just a girl who got New York to coo in her ear louder than any other set of skyscrapers but who never got over the fact that we cannot smack the cities together and play neighbors for a while.”
    HUGS to you Hannah. thank you for sharing you gift with us.

  2. Hi Hannah, Found you because of your TED talk today. It made me so glad that when i was at college my friends from home had to write to me because the internet was still pretty new, and we didn’t have cell phones. I knew they were treasures, and I keep them still. Weird to have these strange little notes from the past- some of them from people i don’t even know any more. Teenage relics. xx

  3. You go Hannah, this was a sad post. I could feel that fruatration having been there before. I just saw your TED talk on the tram on the way to work (admittedly with my head down and eyes glued to my phone). But i love writing letters. Parents, friends, girlfriends, it’s an incredible way to connecy and travel through time. It’s not instantaneous. Keep going and do what you do !

  4. Hey Hannah, you go girl! Looks like my earlier comment (from my phone, tap tap) didn’t work, so now I get to write one entirely new! Your TED talk and my subsequent meandering thoughts about all the letters I have written over the years have put a spring in my step this morning despite the sad thoughts and memories your post illicited.

    You are doing beautiful work. I love letters and have found them a good way to connect with an 83-year old friend of the family and my father as he fights through depression. They’re a great way to communicate and even time travel because the reader is taken back to the time of writing, be it a few days or a hundred years.

    You’ve even given me inspiration with your skyscrapers for my next letter. A letter from one city to another, let me know where to send it 😉

    My favourite line was Miles and Stones – Milestones. I’ll remember it as someone tells me about the next one when I start work in 5 minutes.

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