I haven’t been much of a travel blogger for the last few months: most of my time has been spent in a single lovely driveway, enjoying the company of good friends, excellent food, many board games and the Florida winter weather. And not so much enjoying, but at least dealing with, the necessities of dentist, doctor, lab work, van maintenance, etc. R and I had been talking about going camping, though, and between his schedule and my plans, we seemed to be running out of time, so this week we arranged to meet up in Gainesville and camp in the Ocala National Forest for a couple of days.

I chose our campground mostly for practical reasons – it was only an hour away from where I would pick R up, reasonably close to the highway, and the entry in the All Stays app promised fresh water and a dump station, both of which might come in handy.

trees and undergrowth, showing the Ocala National Forest
View from the van window

As it happened, for $20/night, it was a really nice campground. There was a swimming area with a sandy beach (although plenty of signs warning about alligators), trails into the woods, restrooms with showers, picnic tables, bear lockers, plenty of room between campsites, fresh water right next to the campsite, and a general air of peaceful serenity.

But there were also a great many ticks. And on our second day, some serious humidity that turned into unexpected rain. (The weather report was still claiming that it was overcast but not raining even while the rain did its thing.) We’d planned to stay for two nights, but after lunch on our second day, when it became clear that between the ticks and the rain we were going to be sitting in the sweltering van (80+ degrees outside) all day, we decided to head back to Sanford. Oh, and my propane wasn’t working, so we’d had to run the generator to make dinner, breakfast, and coffee, which doesn’t exactly add to the peaceful serenity of a camping trip.

Despite the abbreviated ending, we’d had a nice time. I’d really like to remember it that way. I feel like I’m lying to my future self to even try, though. We went back to Sanford, had a delicious dinner, played some Ticket to Ride and went to bed with plans to go to the movies to see Birds of Prey the next day. We did wind up going to the movie, but between the morning walk and the movie, we managed to have an argument that really just devastated me. I spent most of the rest of the day crying, couldn’t talk to Christina about it without crying, have a headache today from crying, and am crying even while I try to write about it, so yeah, I want to be honest to my future self about it. My kid broke my heart, rewrote our entire relationship, and left me feeling like our future interactions are all contingent upon me being some inauthentic version of myself that is smaller and nicer and placating and… huh, I guess I’m a little angry, too.

I know that this too shall pass. I know that someday it will just be something in the rear view mirror, some moment of pain that maybe still makes me wince but that maybe can make me laugh, too. I know all that, I really do. I even know that he didn’t mean to hurt me the way he did and that he regrets having done so. But none of those thoughts change the reality of this moment. I feel like a failure at a thing I worked incredibly hard at being good at and — yeah, my heart is broken. It hurts. And Fore Lake Campground feels like a Before with an After that just makes me cry.

This too shall pass.

Campground stormy sky
Fore Lake