David Carmichael, known to his friends as David but whose childhood nickname was Numpty, looked up at the stars and considered that people either knew exactly what he meant when he said he loved camping in the desert, or they looked at him as if he were speaking Portuguese. There didn’t seem to be any common ground; you either loved it and understood without words, or you didn’t. If you didn’t understand, there was no explaining it.
He didn’t entirely understand himself. “Why” he said “do I go live temporarily in the middle of the desert when I could just as well stay home, watch videos on my big-screen iMac, drink whiskey from a glass that doesn’t have dust and the occasional ant in it, then sleep comfortably in my own bed?” He took a drink from a glass of whiskey that did indeed have a bug floating black and lifeless in it, and stared at the campfire.
Camping at its best was a compromise between comfort and adventure, heavy on the adventure and very low on comfort. And, though he had gradually over the years acquired the gear and developed the techniques for a comfortable camping experience, still, it was uncomfortable, and a hassle to boot.
“I don’t want comfort” he said, picking the mosquito out of his whiskey glass and flicking it into the darkness outside the fire.
He took a drink and leaned back in his beach chair and looked up. The stars covered the sky and he felt small compared to its sweeping bright magnificence.
A coyote howled in the distance and he heard the steps of what was perhaps its mate stepping across the sandy hills just outside the firelight. The only other sound was the crackle and pop of the campfire.
He took a drink of his whiskey and lit a cigar, blowing the smoke into the stillness and watching it weave above the fire and disappear into the night.