i remember when we first met. she was and still is a nurse on the med unit at the local hospital. we started out with just usual jokes and not quite so work appropriate comments as ice breakers. over time, we realized that we had a “connection” that we couldnt deny. eventually, the conversations became more in depth and included things such as our hobbies, where we have been, what we like to do.
“so do you like to go camping?” she finally asked me.
“ummm yea, for the most part” i replied. Truth being that i hadnt been camping in quite some time. the last time i went camping, i must have been about 17, and that was in the jungle in a third world country.
“well then, we should go, like maybe this weekend” as she leaned in to me.
there in is the issue. there are times when i love when she does that, and then there are times when i wish she wouldnt do that. jenny has this way of looking at me that makes me feel like if she wanted to, she could just lean in and literally steal the breath from my lungs. this was one of those times. it is not easy to focus on work when the girl that steals your imagination and your heart is close enough to set you on fire.
“could you scoot back a few inches?” i asked. “ill need to look at my calendar and see” as i pulled out my iphone.
she plopped back down into her chair and opened one of her charts. i could tell she was still staring at me as i looked through my phone for the calendar app that i kept my work schedule on.
“im looking… give me a minute”
i finally got the app opened and looked at what my hours were going to be.
“this weekend is good, if you want, we could leave friday morning when you get off your shift. just bring your backback and we can throw it into my 4runner and go” i said.
jenny wheeled her chair over to where i was sitting and gave me the softest and most tender kiss on me cheek.
“you are going to have a great time” she whispered in my ear.
the week went by faster than what i had thought. jenny usually works nights which makes our relationship a little rough, but somehow, we managed to make it work. my shift lets me be in the hospital just as she is coming on, and so for a few minutes before she gets shift report, we have a little time together. all she could do was gush on and on about our trip. all i could do was make sure that during that week i had gathered everything that i could possibly need from my bag, to my roll, to the tent, and everything else that one could need for a weekend trip in the wherever we were going.
friday finally arrived and as i was pulling up to the hospital, i could literally see jenny running out the door, throwing her work jacket into the back of her kia and then pulling out her own camping bag. she was really proud of her new bag. it fit her just right and it had a pocket for everything under the sun. i had hoped that when she inspected my bag, i wasnt going to be shamed for making sure that i was fully prepared.
she opened the back of the 4runner and looked at ALL the things that i had packed away.
“you never know” i replied. “we might actually need that stuff!”
she smirked at me, closed the trunk and made her way to the passenger seat. with her she had a smaller bag that she had detached from the main camping bag.
“whats in the bag?” i asked.
“you dont seriously expect me to go on a road trip in a car dressed in scrubs did you?” she replied, as she was pulling extra clothes from the bag. “just drive, i got this”
“ummmm, ok.” i replied. i had known that girls were pretty damn good at changing in a car, i wasnt sure how jenny was going to do a full undress and redress as we were heading down the highway. after a few minutes of catching glimpses of her flailing limbs and a couple of satisfied grunts, jenny was in her travel clothes. shorts, cotton shirt and hiking shoes. all done in under 3 miles of road. that must be a new record somewhere.
for the next hour we drove. actually, i drove. jenny doesnt really like to drive, which is ok with me. she is a great driving companion with her talking about which patients she thought was cute, who pissed her off and what the latest gossip was around the unit. one of the best parts of the drive was where we would hold hands while she talked. there were parts of her story where she was very animated with her hands, but never once did she let go. i enjoyed that because in my mind, she was letting me part of the story, letting me be part of her life.
we finally reached the camping site. it was off the main road by about 3-5 miles into the woods. i was glad that we were in my 4runner rather than her kia. the ground was a little soft and im pretty sure that her kia didnt have the horsepower to get us through some of the softer parts of the trail. we finally arrived at a clearing and pulled to a stop.
“we have arrived” i said quite satisfied with my driving skills.
“no we havent babe” jenny said as she went around to the back of the truck.
“ummm dont people usually camp at a clearly indicated camp site?” i asked.
“we arent most people” she replied, “get your pack and other essentials, and lets go!”
so i grabbed my bag and the extra smaller pack of first aid materials, locked up the truck and followed her into the woods.
“can i ask exactly where we are going?”
“no, but i can tell you that it is going to be someplace that only the two of us will know about” came her reply. she was maybe 20 yards ahead of me, carrying her pack like it was a box of kleenex. jenny is maybe 5ft 4″ tall on a good day and probably 120lbs at her worst. from behind, her pack looked bigger than her, but she was so hell bent on getting us to wherever it was that we were going, the weight of the pack didnt seem to bother her at all.
after maybe another 5-6 miles up trails and down trails, we finally came to a spot that was near the river, but high enough into the tree line that we were clearly away from any sign of civilization. the stars were starting to come out and the sun was beginning to slip below the trees in the distance. jenny shrugged out of her bag and turned to me.
“ok, NOW we have arrived.” she said smiling, “do you like it?”
“how did you ever find this place?” i asked while shrugging out of my pack.
“google maps” came the reply as she had sauntered off in search of firewood.
i was kind of glad that she had gone off. i was about to pull a brand new tent from its bag, and i didnt want her to see that i was NOT and accomplished tent pitcher. too bad where we were provided ample supply of firewood so close to our camp site. im pretty sure she could see that i was struggling, but instead of coming over and doing it, jenny dug the pit for the fire and got it started like any good camper would have done.
i think she let me struggle for the better part of an hour before coming over to help.
“need some help?” she asked
“id be lying if i didnt say yes” i mumbled.
“its ok love” she said as she kissed me on the cheek.
in a matter of minutes, she had the tent up and was already unrolling our sleeping bags inside of it.
the rest of the night was pretty awesome. we watched the rest of the stars come out and had a simple fireside meal. we talked about our plans for the future, both individually and as a couple. we wrapped ourselves in a heavy blanket as we watched the moon cross the sky and pretty much sat in contended silence until jenny fell asleep on my shoulder. i moved us back to the tent and as i drifted off to sleep, i could only look up and thank the universe for sending me this awesome red headed spark plug that made me feel like i had everything in the world i needed.
so this is my first attempt at the photo/story challenge. i hoped you guys liked it. it is an english major/editors nightmare, but whatever. i said i wasnt here for literary awards, this is just me, writing what i feel as i look at a picture. “jenny” is a real person, not her real name. the events stated are things that i made up for the story itself. hence, the story is fictitious.