It is clear God did not create me to suffer in any way. The other day my husband and I needed to borrow a truck to load something. My husband said he would just borrow one from work. I immediately asked, “Does it have air conditioning?” We were driving quite a ways and it was going to be a really hot day. I’ve learned from past experiences with my husband to not assume certain things. He assured me the vehicle had air.
We got in the truck. It felt like 110 degrees and once you have lived in Arizona you are clear on what that temperature actually feels like. My husband turned the air on. It blew hot air. Not the hot air that turns cooler after a few minutes. It blew the hot air that would only continue to blow hot air forever. I began to sweat immediately and we had not even left the parking lot. I started to have flashbacks from my childhood.
Growing up in Arizona, my father refused to turn the air conditioning on in the house until the temperature hit 105 degrees. (Not even remotely joking.) Friends would invite me to their house instead of hanging out at mine because it was so uncomfortable. If my sister and I ever complained, my father would say, “You don’t even know what roughing it is.” Since he served in Vietnam and experienced extremely rough conditions that usually silenced us. And, my sister and I didn’t want to encourage his war stories.
The truck’s vents continued to blow hot air the further we drove. I complained to my husband (because he didn’t serve in any wars so it was okay). He shook his head and said, “You’re such a princess.” I rolled my eyes like I always do when he says something dumb.
He continued our one-sided conversation. “What if you were called to be a missionary? You wouldn’t survive.” Well, duh! When did I ever say I wanted to be a missionary? I rolled my eyes with more emphasis to end the conversation. It was too hot to argue.
The closest thing I’ve ever done to living in missionary-type conditions was camping. I went camping two times in my life. The first time I was a child. My mother refused to go. My dad made it sound so fun I didn’t understand why she would want to miss this spectacular adventure with us. I couldn’t wait to “sleep under the stars” and “really experience nature” like my father would say.
The place where we camped was nicknamed “Scorpion Gulch.” (I don’t like scorpions. That was the first red flag.) My Godfather and his kids went with us too. He slept while holding a gun on his chest like he was ready to fire it at a moments notice. (Second red flag – were we camping next to people that were dangerous? Escaped convicts maybe?) So, this is why my mom stayed home.
The second time I tried camping I was in my 20s. I thought I’d give it another shot or that somehow I had changed and would suddenly love leaving every comfort of my home to sleep on the ground and not take a shower for days. Afterwards, I was still the same.
My need for comfort may have influenced my teenage son a bit. When he was younger, he and his buddies pitched a tent in the backyard one summer and camped outside for the night. In the morning I woke up to find the back door open a crack with an extension chord plugged in. I followed the chord all the way outside to the tent. He said he and his friends got too hot and couldn’t sleep. (Yep. I ruined him.)
Needless to say, all this suffering was for nothing. After a long, hot day in a truck with no air conditioning we didn’t end up hauling anything. But, since I had sweated profusely and looked like I had been camping, I decided to count this as attempt number three. Big surprise – I still don’t like it.
(First published in the Atchison Globe 7.2.16)