As my afternoon comes to a close I have decided to listen to Leonard Cohen. It seems appropriate as the sun is creating a sleepy feeling in me as it caresses my head and neck.
The sun has always had a way of making me feel sleepy. On quiet summer days I have been known to close my eyes and turn my face into the sun. The warmth washing over me is relaxing and calming. When I can feel the temperature of my face reaching a boiling point, I turn and let it cool down.
Sometimes I forget to turn away. The end result is often red and irritated. Usually it is gone in just a couple of days, but there was one time when I wasn't so fortunate.
Camping seems like a great idea to a bunch of teenage boys with no job and the summer settling in nicely. And, because we begged our parents, we decided it was something we wanted to do without our parental figures.
This of course means we are hoping for a weekend full of booze, girls and anything else we can get our hands on.
We, myself, my brother Ben and two of our friends, packed our things into my Mom and Dad's car and had them drive us to Chena Lake Recreation Area. Chena Lake is a popular hang out for kids and families in the summer months in Fairbanks, Alaska and we figured it would be our best chance to spot some girls.
In our minds we had the notion of John Cusack's, One Crazy Summer, that we too would find our Demi Moore. We were certain that she was there on the banks of the lake, just waiting for us to come in and wow her with our wit and … well … whatever else we had.
Truth of the matter is, we looked like a bunch of fat kids drooling over an ice cream held just out of our reach. But we were undeterred.
Our first night passed uneventfully. One of our friends had procured a bottle of Black Velvet whiskey and then convinced us that we could get high by smoking orange peels. The other item he had sought for our camping adventure was unattainable.
We spent the evening sipping whiskey and coughing on orange peel smoke. Might I say no one, and I mean not one of us, got high on those peels. We did however have sore throats from trying.
The next day found us on the beach searching for our Ms. Moore. She had to be there and she had to want us to find her.
After searching most of the morning I decided to lie down on a towel and rest, after all I was completely exhausted from staring at the scantily clad women and needed to give myself a break.
I fell asleep for a couple of hours. When I awoke I was burning up so I decided to go in the lake to cool off. Floating on a floatation device I dosed off a time or two before finally paddling back to shore.
We gave up our search for any interested women and headed back to our campsite. My back and legs felt extremely stiff as we walked back making me wonder what the hell I had done.
We attempted to make dinner - a microwave pizza that we were convinced we could cook in the coals under our fire - but failed miserably. I began to shake uncontrollably as a strange coldness filled my body. What the hell is that, I thought? It's a warm day, we have a fire and I am cold. How is this possible?
Of course the answer was sunburn. A bad one at that. Blisters were already forming on my legs and back, and wearing clothing was proving to be a painful experience.
As the night wore on and my misery extended, we decided to call my Mom and Dad. The others, not wanting to appear to have whimped out, said I had to make the call. I found out right before my salvation arrived, they were as sunburnt as I and in just as much pain.
I think about that trip from time-to-time. Especially when my skin gets a little irritated from being in the sun. I am weary of sunburn anymore and have never burnt myself that bad since. Of course, I am a bit liberal with the sunblock now, too.