Monday, June 22, 2009

A Mayfly in June

I’m lying in a squeaky cot watching the shadow of a Mayfly spend part of his short life stuck between a tent and a rain cover. I watch his wings flap quickly as he tries to escape. He is obviously eager to break out and complete his life’s purpose.

It isn’t quiet as I sit in bed. The crickets outside are performing a piece inspired by the noises from a London train station and a Mexican Fiesta. These are the same bugs that have been flying at my face and in my ears all night. A few of their comrades met their end by getting shuffled in the deck of cards out on the picnic table. Rummy is more interesting when ants and June bugs try to play. I try to blame my low score on their participation. Bugs make me jumpy.

My muscles in my arms and lower back ache and I grin at the thought of the trouble I’m going to have getting up in the morning. Being pulled behind a boat all day always leaves my body feeling 50 years older than it really is. I end up limping around for a day or two, and my movements are more restricted for a while. I don’t mind the pain though; it’s merely a reminder of a day of playing hard. When I’m really 70 and my body wakes up tired every morning, I hope it is this same kind of ache, a precious souvenir of an enjoyable past.

I forget about my muscles and the bugs and reflect on the events of the day. Images of blackened catfish, deciduous trees, and glassy water flash through my head. I smile at the water fights, wakeboarding face plants, and tubing battles I’ve been a part of all afternoon. I almost giggle thinking about the magic tricks I showed the three adorable little boys, and how we spent hours coloring My Little Pony pictures. Life is always better when little people are around. I’m happy thinking about how simple life seems out here. I’ve had a hours and hours of fun in an old 18 footer with an outboard motor, a broken wakeboard, a few pool floaties, and some old camping chairs. There is no pool bar, no hotel personnel to bring me a clean towel, and definitely no room service. None of that sounds appealing to me right now. I’m happy to be on this cot with a towel and rocket ship pillow for bedding. I think this is called being content.

I’m drawn from my thoughts as I hear my tent-mate texting her boyfriend. The light clicking of her acrylics against the keys remind me of my own dead cell phone underneath my pillow. It doesn’t matter that it’s dead, I hardly get service here anyway. Its incapacity is strangely satisfying. I don’t need to talk to anyone right now. I wouldn’t mind going four days without turning it back on. Unfortunately, I remind myself, I have work on Monday. Eventually I have to head back to the Parking Garage jungle, but until then……

I turn over so the glow from tent-mate’s cell phone doesn’t keep me from sleeping. I close my eyes and finally realize why my father took us eight kids camping every summer, spring break, Labor Day, President’s Day, and Memorial Day growing up. The simplicity is refreshing, and the work involved in preparing, cleaning, and surviving is the rewarding kind of work. It isn’t the kind of work that results in a paycheck, but the kind of work that makes you happy you are a free person with strong hands and an alert mind. I remind myself that tomorrow is Father’s day. Thanks Dad.

My eyes flutter open one last time before I drift off. The Mayfly has finally freed himself from his confines. He is off to enjoy the last few hours of his 24-hour life, off to make the best with what he has. I mumble goodnight to tent-mate and fall asleep anticipating the fun that awaits tomorrow. I have a few more hours, like the Mayfly, to enjoy before I head back to civilization. I have a few more hours of simple, sweet existence. I am happy.


The McKinleys said...

whoa jenny pate, did you write that? you are one talented little girl! (i was just telling danny the other day about how in second grade you and i were the biggest nerds, and "published" WAY more books than any other kid in our class haha) we need to catch up soon...miss you!

Michelle said...

"When I’m really 70 and my body wakes up tired every morning, I hope it is this same kind of ache, a precious souvenir of an enjoyable past"

Seriously, such an beautiful thought. I hope I can remember to feel that way when I'm 70! You are a fantastic writer (in addition to everything else you are fantastic at) and this post resonated with me. Thanks for stirring my heart.

dallin said...

how poetic. thanks for the comment the other day on my blog, it was nice. I would have texted this message to you, but apparantly your phone is dead. I have my pledge of allegiance blog all typed up, its a doozy, i would suggest not reading it, i dont want another fight, even if we are seperated by hundreds of miles. don't get malaria.

The Yellow Dart said...

that was beautiful.