SAS 008: A time you went camping

Why do some motorcyclists choose to rev their engine at the stop signs in the middle of the neighborhood before the sun is up? Is it unintended? Surely, they must be aware of themselves enough to know how loud their own vehicle is. But whether or not they care is the crux of the matter.

Anyway, I woke up (a little) before my alarm because I heard a motorcycle stopping at the stop sign in front of my house, then using the unfortunately long and unencumbered straightaway in front of them to absolutely shred the tranquility of the morning to microscopic bits. To be clear, I would’ve heard the bike even if my window were closed, which it wasn’t because during the summer I sleep with my window open. I do this because I like the sound of crickets at night and because it keeps the air in my room fresh. Or as fresh as an air-ventilated room can be during the summer.

Perhaps I could’ve gone back to sleep after the sound; I was plenty tired and I was prepared to let my alarm ruin me in a few minutes. But another thing about my window is that in the morning, the sun shines through it. Specifically, it shines on half of my bed. The only time it doesn’t is when it’s cloudy, and during the summer, it is never cloudy. Today, the abrasive outdoor alarm threw me into the inescapable awareness that my eyelids were nowhere near capable of blocking out the released photons of the star nearest to Earth.

I was undeniably awake by this point. So I checked my phone. 0742. My first alarm was set to ring in seven minutes. Well, at least I won’t be late.

I went through the notifications on my phone. Some texts through the night. Some dating app messages. Some Instagram comments. Some emails. And finally, the holy grail. Twitter. I went through the memes I was sent first because those don’t take much time. But my Twitter feed. It’s nearly everything I want in an update. It’s the news from sources I’ve deemed credible, it’s social media comedians and funny jokes and memes, it’s updates from musicians I like, it’s people I like and care about sharing their thoughts. My modern newspaper.

I’d already packed up my car with everything I’d need for this trip yesterday evening, and I kept my backpack in my room for my small stuff like cables and my water bottle. All I had to do right now was make my bed, change into the day’s clothes, and go through my usual morning routine. I was never really into breakfast besides cereal, so while I had time, it wasn’t likely that I’d eat.

I had some playlists ready for today. Well, I had them ready every day. They’re very terrible, so I always have a lot ready so that when one fails, I have backups. During the summer I come back to my Warm series of playlists. I’ve named them Warm, Warm 2, Warm 3, and, most recently, Warm 4. I started it a few years back, and each playlist represents its own year. When fall comes this year, I will make Warm 5, to be ready for next year’s sunnier days. (Please do not look them up. They are not good playlists.) Anywho, I put Warm on because I wanted to go OG, and it really helped set the mood.

The drive through the mountains and forest near Eldorado National Forest was beautiful and tranquil and it smelled incredible and the breeze through my sunroof was perfect and the music was happy and it was really all I could ever ask for in a drive. Since I was driving up on the back half of the weekend, all the traffic was headed opposite of me, so I was largely alone on my half of the yellow line. There was a point where I had to get off the highway/expressways and drive several miles along a windy road that led to the campground, and it was a dream. Slowing down so that I could hear the outside and feel the flickering of sunlight through the leaves, I couldn’t get enough of that kind of drive.

Alas, nothing gold can stay. I found the campground, and I met with my friend who will hereafter be referred to as Brandon. He and his wife and their friends had been here since at least yesterday, so I found an unoccupied spot with a clear view of the lake and the sky and set up shop there. I’d never gone camping where I slept in a tent alone, so it was a relief to set things up exactly as I wanted them to be, where everything had its own place and was clean. I got a drink and got to know the people I’d met just then.

(I’m going to be candid here and say I don’t remember too many of the details of these people. I just remember thinking that they were kind and particular and clearly not from California.)

That night, we all contributed to making dinner. We had roasted vegetables and grilled steaks and lamb chops, and it was simple and great. We drank and played What Do You Meme afterward. Then we drank a while around the fire and talked about country music; it seems I was not listening to enough (of the Good) country music. So I made mental notes of the artists to listen to. Then we were about to turn in, and I decided that it was warm enough to stay out in my jacket and lie on the large rocks next to my tent and clear enough outside to have a reason to keep my eyes open. So I lay.

And the stars were… what were they? Hm. Have you ever been on top of a cliff near sunset? And it’s warm and the breeze is light despite being atop a cliff and there isn’t a single cloud near you or the water or the horizon? And the sunlight begins sparkling off the waves on the surface of the water? But every little wave has a crest, an apex that moves like the top of a fluid mountain? And every apex is really just a bunch of tiny little diamonds with an uncountable number of reflective surfaces? So that when the sunlight hits each surface, it creates an uncountable number of sparkles on an innumerable number of crests on an ostensibly endless open ocean surface and every single one of those reflected rays of light reflect into your cornea all at once because the sun and ocean are huge and your eyes are very tiny in comparison but the result is that all you can really see is the sound of chimes and all you can really feel is magic?

That’s what these stars were.

And I fell asleep on this rock under these stars and woke up to them again. And I have to say that the miracle of perfect vision simultaneous with the miracle of the perfect view is, to no one’s surprise, otherworldly. So thank you, contact lenses.

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