Back to our Future: Marriage between Hot Tang and High-Altitude Porn

Estes Park, from nationalparks.org

Estes Park, from nationalparks.org

Right now we are driving, as a family foursome, to the Colorado Rocky Mountains. At fourteen hours it’s an easy drive, but long enough to require governance by our family’s road trip manual. This includes a rule that addresses bathroom attempts by both kids at each gas stop that we designate a pee stop.

This road trip is now in session.

This road trip is now in session.

Because I’m certain that you wonder what constitutes an “attempt” I’ll pull from the informal (not yet hard cover) manual, which states in Chapter Three that, “If a minor-age passenger fails to produce either urine or its solid counterpart at any stop designated by parent as a pee stop, he may seek credit for the attempt if he can satisfy the standard that his penis was pointed directly at the toilet for five or more seconds. ”

We call it “the point rule.”

I hate to brag, but by now we are so good at car trips and urination that the street language version of the point rule is barked out at each stop mostly in jest. Hey, every family has their brand of humor and tradition, right? This is as on-brand as you can get. We’re the Temples.

So yes. I’m excited for our family’s first trip to the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Neither Brad nor I can figure out why it has taken us this long to choose it as our summer vacation destination until now, when Ry and Zach are 14 and nine, respectively.

The idea of “us” was conceived in Rocky Mountain National Park, in an idealistic tent positioned strangely between a Family Therapy Camp and what seemed like the set of a low-budget, high-altitude porn movie. I promise, I will explain that later. I also promise that neither of our kids was conceived in a tent Rocky Mountain National Park.

The point is that Colorado is the place from our past in which the prediction of our future took place.

It's all getting clearer. Or less clear. It's so hard to tell!

It’s all getting clearer. Or less clear. It’s so hard to tell!

Twenty-two years ago Brad and I, all wonky in love and three months into our dating, made a road trip to Estes Park, CO and spent a week camping. We hiked by day and cooked basic meals over a fire by night. We talked and talked. It was in that week that we realized we were likely headed to marriage.

In Colorado we envisioned our respective adult lives, including sizes of cities, what we might want from careers, and how we would both be proud to walk out of a meeting to make it to a kid event. It turned out that we both wanted to live in an older neighborhood. We both agreed that if we ever parented a child who was gay or lesbian, it would be good because we knew they would never be questioned or loved less for it by their parents. We agreed that, between us, we could run a household responsibly and would take pride building a stable but not extravagant financial life. It happened about like that. Our discussion went from, “I see myself…” to, “Don’t you think we would be good at…?”

Damn, we thought we had it all figured out. It never really dawned on us that we might not ever have the choice of whether or how or how many kids we might have. And admittedly, we took a lot of things for granted about careers, financial life and ability to avoid or recover disaster. Another time I’ll talk about the privileges that laced that conversation, but it’s not lost on me and it even wasn’t even lost on us at the time.

This photo of Tang is on another wordpressblog called,

This photo of Tang is on another wordpressblog called, “Larry Gross Online” which you will find at larry5154.wordpress.com

Our tent site was comically positioned between camping occupants that represented two extremes. To one side of us was a family that we smugly referred to as either, “Family Therapy” or “Hot TANG.” Much too early each morning, the awkward (deliberate, desperate and overcompensating, we said) dad would call out every item he was cooking on the Coleman camp stove, but to no response from his family. To this day we die laughing over the Goddamned laundry list of available food and then the calling out of myriad drink options.The list of drink options included the last choice, “…or TANG, hot or cold?”

I’d like to be on record with my “No thanks!” to Tang at any temperature, but I throw an especially emphatic “No fucking way!” out to the idea of hot TANG.

This is an undeniably convenient segue to describing the neighbors on the other side of us.

The tent on the other side of us was a steamy, nylon love shack for a middle-aged couple with Louisiana plates on their Saab. Each morning they drove away in nothing like hiking or camping clothes. They never returned to their site until the wee hours of the night, drunk and ready to begin a seemingly endless round of loud, moaning, juicy, fake-sounding sex. They blared the same instrumental saxophone and guitar music each night, which did not mask their love-racket in any way. It was like a soundtrack to their porn. It was Kenny G or something. I swear to God it’s true.

At our camp site we looked to our left and said, “Well, that’s a bit too much!” We looked to our right and even though we laughed at them, we agreed that we could fathom partaking in family therapy in our future much more than we could fathom ever consuming hot TANG or sexing with such indiscretion in such tight quarters with others.

We passed on both options and then looked at our place in between and declared, “We got this. This is us.” Then we stopped looking sideways and instead looked ahead. We were pretty sure we would be successful marrieds until the happily ever after because, after all, we had carefully and earnestly covered all of the topics that seemed important. We screened ourselves carefully and passed our own test.

But Colorado air is so thin and we were so young.

cutebabywallpapers.com

cutebabywallpapers.com

It’s been 22 years since the camping trip of 1993, and we just celebrated 20 years of marriage. We can both admit that we thought being married for the duration would be easier than it has been. We thought we could talk and plan our way to the happily ever after we envisioned. In truth, there probably is no happily ever after—and if there is, then you are probably more likely to stumble on it than you are to talk or plan your way to it.

But we keep talking anyway, much like we did back then. It’s just that we’re no longer naïve enough to believe we are somehow conversing our way to happily ever after. We are more focused on enjoying most of the todays and fondly remembering the mountain of accumulated yesterdays. It’s not like we neglect tomorrow, but taking care of today goes a long way toward securing tomorrow.

We lost our family photo of us in front of our car and therefore had to borrow this image from thinkgeek.com.

We lost our family photo of us in front of our car and therefore had to borrow this image from thinkgeek.com.

All of this explains why it’s special for us that we loaded up the car (see above, a Hybrid of sorts) and headed back to our future, this time with kids in tow. As I write we are arriving in the mountains. The kids are enjoying the views and having fun asking and talking about what they see. Our car isn’t a Saab with Louisiana plates, and actually, it’s not the DeLorean as you think it is.

I don’t think we’ll toast our first Rocky Mountain Sunrise with TANG, hot or cold. I’ll skip the obvious joke about whether or how we could honor the tent site on our other side.

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About Meredith M. Temple

I'm a full-grown child of the 1970's and 80's now making good on the detail that consistently appeared in my childhood vision of my adult life. I'm writing for pleasure, but now am doing it by blog rather than (or in addition to) the emails, notes and essays I have written for years just because it feels like breathing to me. I'm a full-time worker outside the home, and an all-the-time wife and mom of two boys, 9 and 14 years old. As such I throw a lot of footballs, shoot a lot of hoops, deliver a lot of lectures, swear more than I ought to, thank a lot of teachers and coach a few teams. If I'm your friend, neighbor, coworker or the person you met at the park, I am probably the one whose story was a bit too long, though hopefully entertaining. Remember, I'm happy to return the favor. I do love a good story, and I don't just mean my own.
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2 Responses to Back to our Future: Marriage between Hot Tang and High-Altitude Porn

  1. Ann says:

    I really loved this blog. I’m with you on the Tang….hot or cold. Nothing worse. This is so authentic, funny, and so family.

    My only complaint is that it shows up in a light blue on my IPad and these old eyes find it hard to read. I’m sure I could change it but don’t know how.

    Like

    • Hi, Ann. I finally had it pop into my head that you had given a really helpful piece of feedback about the blog, which is that the light-colored text is hard to read. I wanted to find an improvement for this but had not jimmied around in the site for awhile, so the comment was hibernating in my head but now it’s spring. Thanks for your comments on this and also all over Facebook as you spread that familiar and appreciated Ann humor, understanding and encouragement to so many, just from farther away. Cheers to you, Ann!

      Like

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