Fig Newtons and Peeing in the Woods

When I was a kid, my parents bought a cabin by the lake that was still in construction. The thought was that it would be a weekend home away from home where the four of use would bond as a family and have fun in the lake. In practice, I get carsick. The two hour car ride through the mountains, the car filled with a cloud of hairspray, was torture. I was sick as a dog. That first trip to an unfinished cabin without plumbing or internet seemed to be a rude awakening for my parents. My father more that my mother, who had driven us around to look at houses a few years earlier and knew what she was in for. This was supposed to be a wonderful family experience and instead there was dissent in the backseat.

I was woozy, my sister had a headache, and we were both grumbling. Everything was disappointing. The car ride was boring and seemingly endless to a kid, I felt awful, and knew that the water bottles in the back were for things our indoor plumbing at home just did.

Our parents were still trying. Lunch was picnic style in the middle of the living room that was still  dusty from construction.

I remember the fig newtons as the last straw. Fig newtons?! Did my parents know me at all? The Oreos I had looked forward to for their rarity in my life were all gone and if I wanted a cookie it would have to be a fig newton. The hatred I felt for that package of cookies my mom offered me was irrationally strong. Those cookies could rot in hell. Who buys fig newtons?! Everything was horrible and awful and no good and I still felt sick and I just wanted to go home. Home where my boat anchor of an internetless computer was waiting for me to watch my Gilligan’s Island DVDs and write plays about talking dogs on Word Doc like a normal Saturday.

I started to cry quiet angry tears. I was crying. In anger. I hurried up the stairs to the the lofted bedroom my sister and I would share, and sat at the top of them where my parents couldn’t see, staring at the bannister, rustically made out of bark-covered branches. I hear my mom follow me up and already I’m “ashamed of myself, young lady”.

I pulled myself together and went back down the stairs, trying to pretend that is was “just like camping”. Camping, which I loved and certainly did not hate. My dad telling me to smile did not help. Pulling up the corners of your mouth into a gruesome smile that doesn’t reach your eyes does not make a person feel better. In short, I was a drip.

At some point that night, my sister and I, both having refused to go in the woods like animals, were escorted to a neighbor’s house in the dark to use their bathroom.

That fist trip had been a disaster. The subsequent trips were much better, although I’m pretty sure I’ll get motion-sick for the rest of my life, once we had plumbing the grumbling died down and we began swimming and enjoying ourselves.

My parents sold the cabin before the recession hit and just before a tornado swept through and destroyed the lot it was on. It was the only time we ever tried to have a second home and if my parents didn’t have remarkable luck or very possibly, economic insight, it could have ended disastrously. But on the bright side for the new owners, without all those pesky trees, they kind of have a view of the lake.



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