Blue over Green, Tent in Between
Flying|December 2021
I’m old , I’m cranky. Why do I keep air-camping?
AMY LABODA

Everything hurts. I’m not going to open my eyes. Oh, hell. Bladder warning. Reality check. I’m going to have to move.

Eyes open, I’m assaulted by the Day-Glo orange of the hyperlight tent I’m lying inside. There’s a bucolic moment where I hear birdsong—and then something else. The rapid beating of blades on air. A helicopter: big, inbound. Where was that helicopter pad staked out?

The dome of the tent starts to move. Crap. Did I even tie down this thing when we crawled inside it last night? I know I tied down the airplane. I look over at my sleeping partner, who is snoring away in his sleeping bag. He’s heavy enough; we’re not going anywhere.

Ugh. I heave myself to a sitting position and pull on my shorts. I crawl to the door (this is a backpacking tent, not stand-up—even for me).

“Zippers should be banned,” I mumble, forcing myself to be gentle so as not to tear the seams. Feet out, shoes slipped on, I emerge on hands and knees into a spray of dew off the rather-wet turf. My eyebrows are being blown back by the turbulence generated by the landing Coast Guard helicopter. Standing, I watch as an ambulance trundles up and disgorges a patient onto a stretcher. Within a minute, they are secured on board, and the wind pummels the tent once more as the rescuers depart. Then back to birdsong. And I remember my bladder—run!

No, actually. I don’t run anywhere anymore. Late middle age is not always kind to former athletes. Maybe I just pick up the pace a little bit and usher a prayer of thanks that I am not forced to wait in a line for the bathroom dedicated to campers on this airfield. Inside, it is clean and warm, if a little damp from the previous occupant, who clearly showered. Functional. I’ll take it.

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