sleeping bagRebecca

Last night Levi and I drove to New Jersery to buy camping gear. (Because where, other than New Jersey, does one buy camping gear?) We’d been wanting to do it since last summer, and with Independence Day just around the corner and money set aside for this very purpose, we knew the time was ripe.

The obvious objection is that we live in New York City and there is neither space in our apartment to store the gear, nor plot in the City to use it, nor car to get us to the nearest campground—undoubtedly a commercial endeavor where we make reservations, use actual bathrooms, and purchase trinkets at the gift shop on our way out.

Still, we wanted camping gear because we want to be the kind of people who go camping, and akin to those people who think their Northface Jackets make them explorers, we sought validity in just owning the gear.

On the drive out we laughed as we found that we had both endured the same childhood humiliation of having to use those bulky taffeta/flannel sleeping bags that after years of big families and too many overnights on the trampoline smell just a touch like urine. Our friends showed up at slumber parties with slick mummy bags, tucked conspicuously into stuff bags. We, on the other hand, were poor. And we were from big families. And we had ugly sleeping bags.

We laughed at our memories and thrilled at the prospect of buying whatever bag we wanted. Afterall, this excursion to New Jersey was about quality of life.

But life, predictably, caught up to us. We got there and found ourselves making a series of decisions based on future family. The sleek little tent gave way to a five-man because eventually, we want to fill it with kids. The LED flashlight with balanced optics and anodized surfaces gave way to a two-pack of plastics that won’t last through the night. “The kids,” we reasoned, “will lose them anyway. And they’ll each want to hold one.” After a series of conservative, family-friendly choices, we made our way to the sleeping bag section and at last, void of free-will, we silently reached for the Slumberjack Bonnie and Clyde Double Sleeping Bag. With pillows!

In an effort to make ourselves feel better, we bought a Nalgene bottle too. But not even exuberant talk on the way home about what sticker we would put on it (“Something environmental? Or how about something political? Obama 2008?”) could let us forget what had just happened.

When we got home it was all too much for me. I went into the bedroom and surrendered. I put on a pair of high-waisted khaki capris, ankle socks, purple Crocs, and a size large Old Navy American flag t-shirt. After cutting my hair into a no-nonsense bob, I started to cry.

I wasn’t crying because we didn’t get the sleeping bag I wanted. Or because I felt like my youth was passing away. I wasn’t crying because I was no longer capable of hip, or because motherhood was dowdy.

I cried because for several months now we’ve been talking about getting a car. We’ve been talking about Volvos, and Toyota Highlanders, Honda Pilots and Saturn Outlooks.

But the slightest glance at our pile of gear and it was very, very clear to me.

We’re getting a mini-van.