New Experiences in Central Indiana
Chapter 7 of my work-in-progress camping memoir
I started working on a camping memoir five years ago but abandoned it after a year of detailed work because the time just wasn’t right. Now I am ready to get back to the work I started and turn it into a true memoir of the first 21 years of marriage and parenting. If you want to get regular updates on this project, please consider upgrading to a paid subscription.
By the time we returned from Yellowstone, Jeff and I felt like we could conquer the world. We saw ourselves as camping experts, road warriors, and we believed that we could face any challenge that nature threw at us.
But we didn’t end up facing challenges from nature; we faced challenges from life.
In my second year of teaching, I took on the extracurricular responsibilities of co-directing both the fall and spring play at the small high school where I taught English. My teaching and directing responsibilities, combined with the complications arising from me teaching in the far south side of Chicago and Jeff’s job in Michigan while we were living in northwest Indiana, made justifying more than a short camping trip difficult. We camped when we could, but getting away from it all wasn’t as easy as we believed it would be when we had registered for all of our camping supplies only a couple years before.
In those early years of teaching I allowed myself every excuse to not leave home for the weekend. I had grading to do, lessons to prepare, and in less than two years of marriage we had purchased a house and adopted a dog. When we did go camping, I tried to relax with friends and family, but I always seemed to have things to do. It was a rough three years full of too much work, broken administrative promises of an improvement in my teaching situation, and a near change in career when I just didn’t know if I could keep doing the teaching load I was doing without losing my marriage, myself, or both.
When I got the phone call for an interview at a school in Indianapolis, I jumped at the opportunity. And within several weeks I accepted a new position. Once Jeff also found a new job in Indianapolis, we were finally living and working in the same city, a revolution for our relationship.
When we moved from Chicagoland to Indy, we entered a new camping territory paired with new challenges. While my teaching schedule became significantly more manageable, going from four English preps to two English preps, my extra-curricular schedule became significantly more involved. Within the first few months of working at my new school, the principal asked how I felt about directing the spring musical in addition to the fall play. I suddenly found myself relatively inexperienced and in charge of a much larger theater program than the one I’d led before. Young and idealistic, I poured most of my extra energy into those productions. Weekends packed with set building and choreography rehearsals made fall and early spring camping trips difficult. When I did have a free weekend, Jeff had to force me to get away so that we could focus on each other and forget the pressures of work. But once the weekend extracurricular responsibilities melted away each late spring, we immediately started looking for available weekends when we could get back out into nature.
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