Look At All The Friends I Made

I am not on vacation at the time of posting this. I did however kind of go on vacation and wrote this blog post then. So let’s all travel back in time. The year? 2019. The day? July 6th. The mood?

I am on vacation(ish) at a lake house in the middle-of-nowhere Poconos, with 13 other people, almost all of whom I hadn’t met before Wednesday.

My friend Phil, the one who actually invited me to this lake situation, was talking this morning about how he’s having trouble sleeping in the house. I always feel really bad when people can’t sleep. For whatever reason, I can always sleep. My current theory is that my anxiety makes my whole body vibrate so intensely that by the end of any given day I’m exhausted from keeping still in front of strangers. Whenever anybody postulates that maybe the mattress firmness index (MFI) is not quite what would be preferable to them and that’s why they aren’t sleeping, I feel like a tiny bit of a freak. I don’t even notice what most mattresses feel like. It’s a mattress, so I guess I mostly notice that It’s nicer than sleeping on the floor. I feel like it might be because I grew up in a small house with a million siblings and no say in the mattress selection. The only mattress firm enough for me to even notice was the bed I slept on in Thailand, but I’m pretty sure that was a slab of concrete covered with pink Hello Kitty sheets.

He was saying that he thinks that maybe it’s a combination of his mattress the fact that it was so quiet. Which it really is. It’s the kind of quiet that makes someone who listens to a lot of murder podcasts nervous. I went running today without earbuds and it was so silent that I started getting worried. Someone drove by in an old pickup truck and I wondered how helpful my dental records would be in identifying my dead body. It really escalated fast.

This configuration of people at a house together has been really solid. Everyone seems to genuinely like each other, and the thinly veiled manliness competitions have been kept to a minimum. And I know that it's been hard for this group of dudes. Because there’s a gas grill, a fire pit and a canoe, and those are all un-pass-up-able opportunities to act like you know more than you do for no one’s benefit.

It’s a chatty group, and I found myself really comfortable pretty fast. To the point where I worry if I’m talking too much? Either way, I’ve made it through multiple board games, boat trips, meals and s’more making seshes without seeming to make too many waves (except in the lake HEY YO). But this morning, I woke up without an alarm, which is the state in which I will always be happiest, and grabbed a cup of coffee that someone else has made (+10 happiness) and wandered out to the back patio. I got scattered “good mornings” but mostly just a lot of silence. When I took a seat, I noticed that all of them were on their phones. It was actually noticeable now that we’d spent a few days with an unspoken agreement to not have them around at every moment. Felt good.

This group of people are incredibly talented when it comes to drinking. My specific group of friends just isn’t a partying crowd, so this has actually weirdly been a nice change of pace. There’s something so entertaining about binge drinking when you don’t have to be the one doing it. Their particular poison is spiked seltzer, which wasn’t really a thing when I was drinking, which is for the best, because that could have been my jam. One of them had never done a keg stand, so at 3PM yesterday we hoisted a grown man up feet over head and essentially waterboarded him on his own request. We played multiple rounds of Kings, which I hadn’t played since college, and even then I had maybe participated twice ever. I played along, pounding civilian seltzer in place of beer. As people got progressively drunker, my skin started glowing more and more as my body hydrated.

Last night we (one of the other girls, and me) built a fire and once again did the traditional marshmallow toasting with a bunch of insanely long sticks that someone had bought. One of the best parts of this trip has been the complete lack of need for my participation in the planning. They just sorta... got it. Planning HQ was an extremely active Facebook messenger chain and my contributions were limited to suggesting that we buy fruit for snacking (because I was tryna RAGE obvi.) But all of the meals were planned (without me) and the place was picked (without me) and the keg was procured and the marshmallow sticks were purchased and it all happened without me. This is the third year they’ve had this trip and they’re a relatively well-oiled machine.

We had run out of chocolate, so someone recommended using a peanut butter cup in its place. Let me tell you- it is not a good substitute. As someone who has pledged fealty to the gods of Reese's over the years, I hate to admit it, but it just doesn’t make any sense. There isn’t enough chocolate in the equation, and the peanut butter just feels like an unnecessary addition. I admired the chutzpah of the suggestion though. These are vacation improvisers and I respect it.

After the fire died down, around midnight, a couple of us jumped in the lake, which looked completely black at night. Once we were completely frozen to the core, we made the run from the lake to the hot tub. The spirit of it all just felt like college, but not the college I went to. A different college. Maybe one with a quad. And frat houses. With actual college students in it. It didn’t seem to matter that we’re all in our 30s.

It’s raining now, which is good because I want to do exactly nothing today. We were up until two AM asking the hard existential questions (including my favorite question of all time: “What celebrity would you sleep with but then be ashamed about it?”) The trip has been just long enough to start feeling my physical magnetic pull to New York ease off, but it’s not gone completely. I’m pretty sure that would take at least two full weeks away and that hasn’t happened maybe ever. 

I’m leaving tonight, early, so I’m back in the city for my rowing lesson tomorrow, and as much fun as I’m having here I like when I realize that I have a home that I get excited to return to.