“Okay, here we are”, he said as he pulled the truck over. Tonight was their first camping trip together, even though it was only for the night. It was clear that evening; stars blossomed from each direction, and the Milky Way was in full-view. When you leave the smog and noise of the city, the cosmic treasures that await you above are plentiful.
Like an excited child unwrapping a gift, she unrolled the sleeping bags. “Hey now”, he said with a chuckle, “I still have to take everything else out so we’ll have room in the back, you goof”. She flashed a smile, the same smile that owned his heart, “I knowwww, but I’m getting anxious! I wanna tell you about all of these constellations because you only know about the Big Dipper!”
They’d only been dating for three months, but he figured now was as good a time as any to have an overnight camping trip. His apartment was small and often felt cramped, while she still lived with her parents as she completed school. The vast wilderness felt like the ultimate freedom. He set up the butane stove and placed their foodstuff alongside in a cooler filled with ice. In a separate bag, everything necessary for a good amount of s’mores, including gourmet Swiss chocolate, was ready to go.
She grabbed a hard cider and an Old Milwaukee from the cooler. “Catch”, she said as she tossed the beer in his direction. He fumbled the wet can in his hands before it slipped, fell down and pierced a rock. Cheap beer sprayed everywhere like a leaky water balloon. A damp spot formed on his chest as he scrambled to open the beer and prevent it from making even more of a mess. She walked over and threw her arms around his neck, going in for a kiss.
“It’s okay. I like a man who smells like he’s had a good time”, she said before planting a soft peck on his lips. She stood there for a moment, resting her head against his chest and taking in her surroundings with a deep breath. She felt safe and content.
“Here, I’ll grab you another beer”, she said. He finished setting up their camping area; a stove that was currently flickering from warm flames, two chairs with can holders, a Bluetooth speaker for listening to music, her telescope, and two sleeping bags with pillows in the back of the truck. He took the beer from her small hand, opened it, and took a long drink while staring at her. There was nowhere else he wanted to be.
He watched her adjust the telescope with care, muttering things to herself while she worked. With a brief shiver, he zipped up his jacket and shuffled his feet in the gravel. The air was like new life, the environment felt alive. It was as if a majestic being had created this entire space for them; pine trees, prairie grass, snow-capped mountains in the distance, the relaxing sound of the small stream, and the chirping of crickets. She looked up from the telescope, noticing him spacing out. “Hey, handsome”, she said with a smile.
With an unfinished beer in his hand, he walked over to her, placed his arm around her hip and kissed the top of her head. “So, what’s first?”, he asked.
She took his hand in hers. “How about we start with something simple, like the moon?”