Over the weekend, I went camping with my family and some friends. I don’t see friends very often, certainly not as often as I’d like. But about twenty of us went out to a not-so-remote campground in Ramona, CA.
Dos Picos County Park is an oasis from the city life I see every day. Don’t get me wrong, I mean, yes, I do live in paradise, but there’s too much going on, it’s too busy, and too loud. Sometimes I need a break from the noise. I also need to reconnect with other human beings. I have my family, sure, but they’re used to my quirks, eccentricities, and so on. It’s not until I mix with others that I can see myself more closely to see who I really am or at least, how I project myself. I mean, if you take a good look at yourself through other people’s eyes, it can be very telling. And I, I don’t often feel like I fit in.
I don’t think I have felt like I fit in for most of my life. Do you ever feel that way? I mean, really. I have felt like an outsider all my life. There’s so often something I say or do which makes people either uncomfortable, or they lead me to think I shouldn’t have said such a thing. This weekend was something like that. We, our group, sat around an early morning campfire talking about the camp, and other camps and the very large red ant colony inhabiting the area at Dos Picos. From there, my brain leap-frogged to a story I had read about fire ants which had devoured a man while he dozed during his lunch break somewhere in South America. It was from a book, Unlucky Stiffs, by Cynthia Ceilan (2010). I said as much, but the looks I got from around the campfire told me, WTF? Of course it was the wonderful Englishman who came back at me with another anecdotal story in a similar context. Bill is good that way. He has a way of rescuing conversations which have gone awry. God bless the Brits.
The camping trip was great and we all had a wonderful time. However, I did miss talking to a good friend of mine, Theresa, who did not make the trip. There were extenuating circumstances which led up to the camping trip and she and her family did not come. That said, most years, since our trip has become an annual event, I usually get some time to talk to Theresa. She makes me feel more normal among the other fantastic people we camp with. Even when talking about things like ghosts, or dreams, or religion. Theresa not only tolerates the conversation, but contributes with insights I continue to process long after the discussion.
The camping group we usually hang out with, including Theresa and her family, are simply fantastic, impressive and can make me feel intimidated. When I say fantastic, I mean, those we accompany on the camping trips, have well rounded formal education. There are engineers who work on satellites, and others working in the field of Photonics, NASA people, and JPL. There are biomedical researchers, big-time programmers, Professors, and … people in high tech, really high tech…
And then there’s me. I didn’t finish college. I barely earned enough street-cred to work in the IT group I am in at the University. I don’t see myself as anything less than a smart person, but I certainly have no real education. I can see that. I don’t sell myself short. I read as much as I can. I write as much as I can share. I’m okay with that.
And with that small look into my psyche I present to you, Part Five of The Ferryman, The Interrogation of Leif. What better example of being an outsider is there than being a stow-away on a pirate ship? Especially a spaceship. It doesn’t get any more fun than space pirates.
Thanks for reading.