Let us begin!
So it was early Spring, meaning that in Oklahoma (where we had begun our little road trip to the West Coast) the weather was still quite brisk. I guess being in the center of the freaking country, you get an odd combination of all weathers; thus for Springs’ in Oklahoma you have to prepare for waking up and experiencing a cool morning chill, then as the day moves on it gradually becomes inappropriate to wear a jacket lest you prefer sweat accumulating in all of your intimate crevices and then at some point, the day climaxes and it’s hot for a few moments, all the while the sun is starting to set so you know the cold will soon be upon you once more.
And there was probably a tornado that occurred somewhere in that point between cold to hot to cold again.
But that’s just Oklahoma.
New Mexico had practical weather. Honestly, it was just warm the whole time – the kind of weather that you see in movies. Where you can wear whatever the heck you like. But as we moved into Arizona I think hot was a more appropriate word to use. We arrived as the sun was going down, but it was unmistakably time to break out the shorts and pre-summer gear – something that we all welcomed graciously I think.
We were staying in another church, this one offering us an open chapel (or whatever) for us to break out the air mattresses and sleeping bags and just outside there was a gated courtyard with playgrounds and connecting buildings, one of which housed the shower allowed us; I’ll tell you why the courtyard is important momentarily.
So we broke into groups, as was custom; there was the group that was going to be cooking dinner, the group that immediately made toward the showers because this time there was only one and our numbers still remained around 40 as no one had died; and lastly, there was the group who was up to no good. Always.
Well, dinner happened and then there was general hang out where we talked and did whatever people do when lounging around a church absent the purpose of worship; finally, a few of us decided that we wanted Sonic, which is a fast food restaurant if you don’t know. Noble intentions. Except for the fact that on the way to what I thought was Sonic (yes, I was the one who got us lost – don’t judge me) we ended up wandering like 6 miles out of the way, on foot, through neighborhoods and across highways and finally giving up when there was no Sonic and we were standing in a Walmart parking lot where we figured, this’ll do.
I don’t even remember what we bought there, but on the walk back we noticed that a bunch of the houses we were passing had lemon trees; so we picked a few and then just ended up throwing them in weird places.
When we finally got back to the church where the rest of our group was staying, the adventure spirit had come out in us; a few of us set out to convince our companions to sleep outside in the aforementioned courtyard and soak in this wonderful Arizona warmth. There were a few who thought better of this, but as Hitler demonstrated in World War 2, you only need enough to follow you and your bad decision to make an impact.
Thus we pulled our belongings outside and prepared to sleep under the stars. One girl in our group had – what I would describe as – an irrational fear of bugs crawling atop her air mattress and I guess beating her bloody, because she proceeded to spray enough bug spray to get us all high as giraffe nuts before we called it a night. I’m pretty sure she sprayed enough to kill anything that would try to eat her, because … you know… people in sleeping bags are really just soft tacos of the bear world.
My favorite part of sleepovers is when it’s like 4 a.m., and everyone is laying down and it’s silent and then someone says something like ass butter and we’re so tired that we can’t stop laughing.
I don’t remember exactly what was said, but it had something to do with mushrooms and everyone sleeping outside began cackling with laughter – then proceeded to post pictures into the group text that everyone was in of alarming mushroom art.
It’s amazing the things you can remember when you don’t need to remember anything.
But Arizona tricked us, you see.
Yes, the night was warm to begin with but there was this point right before the sun came up where everything went wrong. I’m not talking about a stiff nipple cold; no, what the temperature did was far worse than that. It fell to a bone-chilling, sleeping bag piercing, unearthing cold. Colder than a mother-in-laws kiss; colder than any toilet seat you’ve ever sat on; far beyond any dead Eskimo’s fart.
At some point, I got up in the 5 a.m., hours and showered just to reclaim lost body heat. After recovering from the pseudo-winter cold, I started packing my stuff up as quietly as I could but people started waking up with me; I imagine from freezing their kahona’s off. Eventually, I walked across the street to a gas station and bought caffeine and a donut because college.
When I returned, some fool had hit the lights inside the chapel where everyone who hadn’t joined us was sleeping comfortably. There were still hours left before everyone actually had to wake up, so naturally they were not amused.
Groups dispersed again, some going to Starbucks for coffee, others to Carl’s Jr., for breakfast; then some stayed behind and chose fruit and poptarts and stuff that we brought with us as a group.
But the sun had finally come up and lifted that bitter cold that Arizona had gut-checked us with; those who had slept outside so that they could torture those who had not.
I got a few quiet moments to myself that morning before the bus picked us up, so I pulled out my iPod, put the head phones in, played some tunes and got to jot down a few thoughts in my journal. Reading back, one of them was:
“Slept outside last night with friends; woke up freezing balls. But I don’t regret a thing.”
To be continued.