After moving to the city, you start to get used to all the noise and light after a while. The cars and sirens fade into the distance and you start to convince yourself it’s quiet at night. I look up into the sky and see nothing. I know the stars are there even though I can’t see them. Sometimes I can see Venus but it’s not the same. Something inside me yearns to get away from all the lights and go back to the mountains. I need to relax. I decide a camping trip is in order and plan a weekend getaway.
The weekend arrives and I pack my vehicle to head north to escape the crowds. Three hours later I arrive at the lake and start to make camp. The website said this place was shaded, but I somehow managed to get a campsite with one small tree. Even without all the shade it ends up being perfect, as the tree trunk has the perfect circumference to legally tie my dog. I’m one of those few campers out there who follows leash laws.
I get things settled and my dog and I get ready for the night. I think my dog understands what’s going on but she gets fussy when I make her go inside the tent with me. This changes by day 2 as she eagerly takes her place inside the tent with me. It makes me feel happy. I’m exhausted from the long drive to the lake but look forward to the next day. The campfire is calming and reminds me why I took this trip: To relax and have a great weekend with my pup.
The next morning, I awake to my dog fussing, she needs to exit the tent. I oblige and decided if I should wake up or not. I have no idea what time it is. My watch battery died last week and I have put in zero effort to get a new battery. I also have decided that for this trip, my phone is off. The sun is up but there is some color in the sky, so I decide it’s just after 6 a.m. The dog is right on time for her morning routine. I decide to stay in my sleeping bag and try to fall asleep.
At some point my hunger lures me outside and I make breakfast. The percolator takes what seems like eons to make coffee. I sit there staring at the top lid, waiting for brown water to appear. Eventually I pour myself a cup of joe and smile. Nothing makes my morning bright like the smell of coffee on my nose and warm cup in my hand. My dog is all smiles too, but instead of smiling for coffee, she is enjoying the scenery. She is busy looking at the families nearby and doing her best to make new friends (she does). After my cup of coffee and breakfast, I go to the rental shop at the end of the beach and rent a paddleboard.
I’ve been kayaking before but never paddle boarding. Before this camping trip, I signed up for a paddle boarding class but it was cancelled. So I have no idea what I am doing. But it can’t be that hard, right? Wrong. First, I can’t even pick up the paddleboard it’s so heavy. Like what the hell, I know I’m not in great shape but I can pick up my 45 lb. dog. People pretend not to stare as I awkwardly make my way away from the rental shop. A sympathetic lady asks if I need help and assists me. I wish I could buy her a glass of wine.
Eventually, I make it to my campground and walk towards the lake. The board isn’t as heavy this time for some reason but it still takes everything in me to walk it to the lake in one try. I put on my life vest and get in the lake and manage to get on the paddleboard with no event. Everything goes smoothly at first, I sit on the board like the internet told me to. I think about all the articles and YouTube videos I watched about paddle boarding. I can do this.
Well, if by paddle in a circle, that’s what I meant when I thought that, then yes, I can do this. All the articles online said that in order to stay straight I should paddle on one side a few times before switching. I know I’m doing something wrong as I end up going in circles. I see other paddleboarders making it across the lake and I look at them in awe. I keep trying but continue to go in circles. I decide screw this and start to paddle as if I was on my kayak. This works just fine and I enjoy the water as I’m finally moving in a straight line. The air is cool across my face and the air is calm. I can feel my body relax and smile without trying. This is why I came here.
Then, I get hot and hungry and decide to head back to camp. My dog made new friends while I was away and I talk to my camp neighbors. They’re both lovely women with their kids enjoying a weekend, they offer me some wine. I tell them I’m still learning how to paddleboard and they have no judgement. They commend me for trying something on my own. I want to hug both these amazing ladies for their support. But maybe that’s the pink wine talking.
The day comes to an end and I get ready for another night at camp. I sit in silence with my pup, stuck in my brain, trying to focus on being here now instead of worrying. The sun sets and slowly the world around me begins to darken.
I stare up at the night sky and try to make out constellations I learned in college. Then I see it. The big, beautiful milky way. The stars that gave me solace as a child whenever I couldn’t sleep. The stars that told me everything was going to be okay. My body relaxes as I stare at the night sky and I can feel myself smile.
Maybe I don’t see the stars every night like I used to, but it’s nice to have a little reminder of what’s out there. They are still there. Even if you can’t see something beautiful, it’s there and if you listen just right, you’ll know that everything will be okay.