Ivy and Jay had gone on a birthday camping trip with Ivy’s parents, and I’d stayed behind with their housemates.
I like the housemates. They were nice people who talked with me when we ran into each other during the day and invited me to group meals. I felt include.
On the 4th of July, the most outgoing of the female housemates told me the whole crew was going to the nearby national park. Did I want to go along? They were just going to take a little hike.
I wasn’t much of a hiker. I’m still not. I love nature, but I’m fine with plopping down in one spot and observing from there. Besides, I was in the middle of the head cold I’d picked up during my excruciating bus journey from Texas to Utah. My head was full of snot, my throat hurt, and my energy level was low. But a little hike sounded fun. A little hike would probably do me good.
I got myself ready. Bottle of water. Long cotton pants. Long sleeve cotton shirt. Big straw hat. I was prepared.
We piled into a vehicle and headed to the national park. I don’t remember how far away we were or how long it took to get there. When we arrived, the driver parked, and we all piled out.
The landscape was beautiful in that Southern Utah desert way. The vegetation was sparse. The land was dry. The rocks were red and yellow and orange. It was so different from the lush green I’d grown up in. The stark beauty of this desert astounded me.
A trail started from the parking area. It was paved with asphalt and led visitors to a viewing area. We set off on the trail.
I don’t know how long the trail was, but surely less than a mile. The area to be viewed from the viewing area was, of course, spectacular. The housemates took turns posing on the rocks, and I took photos of everyone. Then we headed back to the car. What a great hike, I thought. That was perfect. What a relief. Now I could rest.
But wait! The housemates weren’t getting back in the car. We weren’t leaving. The perfect little hike we’d just taken wasn’t enough for them. They wanted more! I groaned to myself, but decided to put on a happy face and be a team player.
We walked off into the desert. The sun was hot. My throat hurt. The water in my bottle was lukewarm at best. I was tired. I was not enjoying myself.
The hike stretched on and on. It was no longer little as far as I was concerned. The little hike had turned into a long ordeal.
I hadn’t been paying much attention to where we were going. I didn’t really know how to find my way around in a natural area with no street signs (and no streets, for that matter), so I left navigation up to the people who knew what they were doing. I don’t know if we were on a marked trail or just trudging through the desert, but I started hearing bits of conversation that included words such as Which way? and Where? We were lost. The very nice housemates had gotten sick little me lost in the wilderness. At that moment, I hated the whole bunch of them.
In reality, I’m sure they were just a little turned around. We probably weren’t really lost. We were probably in no danger. But my throat hurt and I couldn’t breathe through my nose and I did not want to go on any more. I was over this adventure.
Then the most outgoing of the women said cheerfully, At least none of us are miserable.
I raised my hand so she’d have no doubt who was speaking. I am, I said. I’m miserable.
It was official. I’d gone on record. I was miserable.
We didn’t wander through the desert much longer before someone got us on the right track. We headed back to the vehicle. I’d never been so happy to see my transportation out of a place.
On the way back to the tiny town where the housemates lived, we stopped for pizza and ice cream. Pizza and ice cream and lots of big glasses of ice water can cure a variety of woes, and I felt the hatred in my heart dissipate. I felt friendly toward the housemates again.
Back at home, everyone dispersed to take naps.
Before I headed off to lie down, the most outgoing woman said to me, We’ll be going to the rodeo tonight. We probably won’t stay long. Do you want to come with us?
I thought about my throbbing throat, the sadness I’d feel seeing the rodeo’s cruelty to animals, and what won’t stay long might mean to people who thought we’d just gone on a little hike. Within a few short seconds, I’d made my decision and politely declined.
A few hours later, I heard everyone in the house getting ready to go to the rodeo, then I heard the vehicle pull away. I was glad I’d decided not to go. My sick, dehydrated body was still trying to recover from that little hike.