Growing up I always thought some people were outside people, some people were inside people. I disliked outside activities. I did not like sports (although I did love swimming). I did not like camping. I did not like fishing. My dad was a dairy farmer, so spending time outside was inevitable, but what I really wanted to do was be inside, preferably with a book. I think Nietzsche makes a joke about pasty intellectuals (if he didn’t, it sounds like something he would say).
I suppose that changed when I started running. I began doing all my runs on an indoor track at my college rec center. When my runs became longer than three miles, I started doing them on the treadmill. It was not until I went home that summer, deprived of rec center and treadmill, that I began running outside. At this point, the most I was running was maybe three or four miles at a time. That year, I trained for a half, so this thesis-writing college senior was forced outdoors. The treadmill became the dreadmill. I now train outside in the rain and in the freezing cold (hello, Michigan winters). Only storms and ice keep me inside.
I suppose this transitioned into other areas. Instead of reading at my desk, I started bringing my books outside on the front porch. Little things, but a big difference from my former self who could only be tempted into spending time outside if beer was involved.
I read Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run and while I remained far away from the ability to run an ultra, most ultra and trail runners seemed to be outdoors enthusiasts. I read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and Jennifer Pharr Davis’s Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail. I caught the bug. I wanted to go on my own adventure. Of course, I have no idea what I’m doing (still don’t), so we asked for basic camping equipment for Christmas and we took a wilderness survival class in the spring in the hopes that someday we will go on our own backpacking or remote camping trip.
But first, baby steps. I’ve gone camping before, but never on purpose. I went with my parents. I think the last time before this past weekend was a trip with my mom and step-dad to Wolverine, Michigan. I remember liking it, but it was not anything I would do on my own. So, this weekend was a “new” experience in its own way.
We went to a state park, so nothing super out remote or out there. Putting up the tent took us longer than the box said, but no meltdowns occurred. We learned that we may not be completely hopeless at this outdoors thing. I made sandwiches and s’mores over the fire. We were kept awake by loud bugs. I was bit up by mosquitos all over my feet, the only place where I forgot to spray off. Aside for the half-marathon, we did not really do anything exciting. Our legs were tired, so we just sat around and talked and not talked. We walked to the lake and cooled our legs off. Bruno practiced floating and swimming. I posted occasionally on Instagram, but because service was spotty, I mainly stayed off my phone.
Bruno said on the way home that he did not think about his dissertation the entire weekend. He told me it was the most relaxed he had felt in a long time. I felt similarly and was actually sad to come home on Sunday. I did not really want to get back to it. Usually periods of not doing anything, even shorter periods like a weekend, make me anxious, desperate for structure and the grind. Monday is my favorite time of year. Not this time.
So we’re back. It is baby step number one for what will someday be a longer trip. I’m not sure either of us expected that we would end up being the couple that does outdoors things, but now Bruno wanting to learn how to fish and I’m looking into a snowshoe race in January. I do not think the “call of the wild” is going away. We’ll keep making baby steps until we are officially really outdoors people.*
*I’ll admit it. I feel a bit like a poser. I can’t even read a map, but man, I am so excited to learn.