Pulling up to my designated spot was like e-braking into heaven. Sure, my '97 Camry, loaded with every camping accessory I could get my grubby paws on, fought to get up that hill a few turns back, but it all seems worth it now. This is my escape from the real world. This is the ultimate adventure. Camping, just like being at home but shittier.
First up: my abode. Four by six feet of absolute freedom. I pull out my double-walled blackout tent. I fumble with the poles and pegs and whatever else is in this confusing bag until a nice man in his 50s offers to help. I quickly offload the entire project of erecting the tent onto him. This is just like being at work, but shittier. After Frank (or maybe it was Gordon?) was finished setting up, I thanked him. He looked really out of breath and frustrated, and I thought I should offer him water or something, but I’m just like my boss at home, but shittier.
The air mattress fills up brilliantly, and I collapse onto it. Just like my bed at home, but shittier. My back immediately begins to ache, and I get an awful cramp in my calf trying to get off it. Perfect. I love the set-up time. It’s like going back to a time when men built their houses with their bare hands, except that I bought all this awesome stuff from Walmart during that big sale at Christmas. “All camping accessories must go” indeed! Into the back of my car and then into my stank basement for months and months.
I laugh at the memory and flick a crushed-up dead spider off the mattress. Just like my bed at home but shittier.
I’ve worked up quite the sweat setting all this stuff up, time to hit the public showers. Turning on the water, opening up that squeaky valve, the water begins to surge. Propelled by a shower head akin to a pressure washer, the field of spray is reduced down to a single point of pressure and it leaves ugly red marks on my chest and anywhere else on my body that is unfortunate enough to be lashed by its unforgiving strength. The water is so hard, so chalked full of minerals that no matter how hard I try, I cannot get the soap to lather.
God, I love this stuff. Just like the shower at home, but shittier.
Walking back to the campsite, I take a look at all the normies in their huge trailers and gigantic 4×4 trucks. They don’t really get it. These trailers are far nicer than my studio apartment, and that’s not the point of camping. It’s supposed to be worse than home; that’s the whole idea. Hell, maybe these normies' houses are worse than their $80,000 trailers and RVs. Woah, did I just gain the ability to empathize? That’s the power of nature. It’s wild. This is just like therapy at home, but shittier.
I’m getting a bit hungry, so it’s time to set up the kitchen. I hang my fully stocked spice rack from the tree near my predetermined eating area, where it is immediately attacked by a number of furious critters. I next spend a good deal of time assembling the butane double-burner stove along with its matching grill and pizza oven accessory. The whole apparatus is supported by two flimsy legs that have no hope of standing on this uneven terrain. This is my kitchen. Just like the one at home, but shittier.
I notice a young woman across from me at the next campsite, dressed in white. She wears a mournful look on her face. In front of her on the picnic table, she writes in a beat-up notebook, poetry no doubt. We share eye contact for a second before she returns to her process. Just like Sylvia Plath at home, but shittier.
I throw my mouth-watering New York strip sirloin on the side burner, but the whole kitchen apparatus tips from the weight. Seeing dollar signs go down the toilet, my instincts kick in, and I reach to stop the momentum, but alas; for my troubles, I receive only a dirt-covered steak, a destroyed kitchen unit, and a deep, deep cut on the inside of my palm. Later, as I was bleeding heavily into the sink, my dirty open wound strikes a fellow camper’s attention.
“You should get that looked at,” he mentions, concerned. Just like medical advice at home, but shittier.
Laying in the tent, sweating profusely, the infection running deeper and deeper into my body, my Apple Watch goes off with alerts from Insta. “Fuck yeah buddy, that’s a picture of a tree,” I think to myself when I see that my friend Kurtis has liked the picture of a tree that I took. That guy has never specifically even suggested that he enjoys trees, so this is big. I feel the chills, lightheadedness, and fever run through my body. This is just like the initial stages of sepsis at home, but shittier.
Later, I’m shaken awake by the momentum of the ambulance weaving through the campground roads with some haste. The man above me shines a light into my eyes. He looks with disgust at the severely infected wound on my hand and my rapidly dropping blood pressure.
In and out of consciousness now, I think back to my camping adventure: the drive-in, the first smell of the trees, Garry or whatever his name was being out of breath after setting up my tent, the last day or so of hallucinations brought on from the swelling of my blood-brain barrier.
“I can’t wait for next summer,” I whisper over and over to myself as a thin man, faceless and dressed in black impossibly slides his way through the crack of the ambulance doors. He begins at my feet, and his massive jaws slowly work their way up, swallowing me whole into the forever blackness.
The grim clutches of death that await every person who takes even a single breath in this life just like at home, but shittier.