Recently Todd and I got away for a glorious 48 hours. No, it wasn’t like the movie with Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy (totally dating myself here). I did use a bucket toilet for the weekend, so for me that is about as renegade as I get. Respites away from home are few and far between. Add a year of no services for children and adults with disabilities in California due to COVID, and respite is as rare as a Gible (Pokémon ode to my sister, Carol). A few months into lockdown, we found a caregiver willing to come to our home and help with Emily a few days a week so I can keep my day job and my sanity. Recently she suggested Todd and I get away for a day or two, and she and Justin would hold down the fort we affectionately refer to as Casa de Chaos. Todd got super excited and immediately wanted to go camping. He asked me if I would go camping in the desert with him. Since I usually decide where we go, and I made 2021 my “Year of Yes” (thanks Shonda Rhimes), I said “Yes, I would love to.” That was certainly laying it on a bit thick.
I am not a fan of camping. I do not even like Glamping. I am more of a Palm Springs boutique hotel than tent and bucket gal, but Todd’s childlike giddiness and excitement challenged me to embrace the idea. The ladies in my accountability group got to hear me daily talk about my thought work. Each day I was writing about creating a “lush” experience of camping in the desert with my husband for two nights. I was serious about visualizing everything at home being fine. The caregiver not facing any challenges. The drive with Todd being drama free. I visualized myself staying calm in the passenger seat of his truck, and joyfully listening to music and loving our time together. I decided I could use a bucket toilet for a couple days, and it would be an adventure. I knew it was a stretch, but if you build it they will come, right? I was doing my part, I was preparing my mind.
While I prepared my mind, Todd was in full planning and execution mode. Every day packages would arrive on our doorstep with something that would be needed for our trip. Todd was making every effort to make sure my experience was amazing. He bought a raised cot mattress and a new tent that practically assembles itself. He pulled out his tent heater, and made sure it was in perfect working order. He bought new camping gear and containers to precisely hold everything in order, and made sure it fit perfectly in his truck bed like a game of Tetris. He got new tables, lighting, emergency chargers, and a new camp stove. He began confiscating my pans from the kitchen to use for our trip. He was planning the menu for our meals and doing everything. I didn’t have to do anything but show up with an open mind. I began embracing his excitement and felt myself actually getting excited about our trip too. Crazy what thought work does.
The night before we planned to leave, we got the weather report, and the place we planned to camp was expected to have sustained winds of 30-50mph. Todd could not hide the disappointment on his face when he told me we would need to cancel due to the weather. He suggested we stay at a hotel instead. I responded, “No, we will figure something out. Let’s get on Google and find somewhere else to go”. It took us a few hours, but we found a place in Arizona about the same distance as our original destination that looked like a good prospect. Neither of us had ever been there. Todd was not too sure, because he could not guarantee what it would be like. I told him we had nothing to lose by going there and it would be a new adventure for both of us and might be great. What? Who am I?
We arrived at KOFA Wildlife Refuge with about an hour of daylight to find a spot to camp and set up our site. All the hard work Todd had put into planning a great experience for me paid off. We had our site up in no time, and made a simple dinner of beer brats on French rolls. We made a lovely campfire to sit by, and we watched the sky delight us with stars that surrounded us and seemed to touch hills in the valley. The sky was amazing and the stillness around us so peaceful. We really just enjoyed the silence and slowness. We both adapted, and both showed up as our best selves for one another. It amazes me that after 35 years together, we continue to surprise one another.