I woke up shaking again, shivering.
It was so cold.
Desperately, I reached out for my backpack in search of an extra sock or shirt or something to add on another layer of warmth. As I tried to reorient myself in my bleary and semiconscious state, I realized that I had once again rolled to the bottom of the tent. My backpack was on the opposite side of the tent, and I began to inchworm myself over to the hope of warmth.
I grasped for my iPad and checked the time, 2:09 AM.
The warmth from a few too many margaritas had disappeared for sometime now, and my best hope for warmth was an extra layer of clothing.
Pulling on an extra layer of socks and realizing that I was already wearing my best bet for warmth, I resolved to huddle into a ball in my sleeping bag and hope for the best.
Still shivering, I began to feel my sleeping bag sliding down to the side of the tent again. I squeezed my eyes shut tighter. I really wished I would have noticed the unevenness of the spot I choose for the tent. Too late now.
I clicked on my iPad again, the bright light illuminated the inside of my sleeping bag as my teeth began to chatter.
I wasn’t going to be sleeping anytime soon.
It was too cold.
Bracing myself for the cold, my hand shot out of my sleeping bag cocoon as I reached desperately for my glasses. Finally finding the familiar black plastic frames, my arm slid back into my desperate attempt for warmth.
I felt the side of the tent go taut as my back rested against it, and I knew I had slid all the way back to the edge again. Feeling like it was a losing battle, I resolved to just stay there.
I felt a lump jamming into my thigh, and I truly hoped that I had noticed and removed all of the cow pies from where I had set up camp.
Hitting the home button, my iPad illuminated my shivering form. If I wasn’t going to be able to sleep, I could at least read. I tapped my Marvel Unlimited app and began to read through issues of the Age of Ultron crossover and The Vision series. As I read and shivered, I wondered if my friends in the tents nearby were as cold I was, but I, then, thought they were probably wiser and had decent sleeping bags. I was snuggled in one I had won during an auction in 8th grade.
Don’t get me wrong; it was a great sleeping bag.
Well, maybe not great, but it was fine for camping in Oklahoma. It was not working for mountain camping in New Mexico.
As I write this, I am trying to think back on the auction in 8th grade and remember what I took home that day. It seems like an impossibly long time ago and an almost entirely different life.
Every year in middle school, there was A.R. auction at the end of the year. A.R., which stood for Accelerated Reader and was a program that my school used to encourage students to read and ensure some kind of accountability for reading. While I am not sure how successful the program was with either of those goals, I loved it. Students read from a wide selection of books, took a short ten question quiz over it, and earned points based on the length of the book. I was an avid reader and needed no encouragement to read, but it became a competition in middle school to earn points where the points were used to purchase items at the end of the year auction. And, it was a competition that I actually had a chance at winning.
The auction’s first year was at the end of my 6th grade year, but over the years, the auction grew substantially until, during my 8th grade year, there were several top-notch prizes to be won. I don’t remember all of the top prizes, but I do remember some. There were several Game Boy Colors to choose from, a Playstation 2, and an air hockey table. Aside from these top prizes, there were plenty of other smaller items ranging from glittery pencils to Backstreet Boys and NSYNC CDs to a few random films on VHS to sleeping bags.
Before the auction started, the top earners met secretly and in private and agreed on which items they wanted. I was one of those top point earners, and I expressed my interest in the air hockey table. The other high point-earning readers would back off and wouldn’t bid me up, and I would avoid the Playstation 2 and the Game Boys.
As the bidding began, I claimed the air hockey table for a small fraction of my points. As the other big ticket items were claimed, we moved onto the smaller items. I know I took home quite a few items that day, but only a few come to mind.
A VHS copy of Backdraft and the aforementioned sleeping bag.
I have always loved movies, and no one was bidding on Backdraft, probably because they had never heard of it. I had never heard of it either, but I remember the principal prompting me to bid for it. I did, and the movie wouldn’t be remembered, except for the fact that it included a steamy sex scene on top of a fire truck. After watching the movie a few days after the auction, I remember thinking it was odd that the principal recommended the film, and I still find it . . . let’s just stick with the word “odd”.
The sleeping bag was needed. If my memory serves me correctly, and I believe that it does, I think I was upgrading from a 101 Dalmatians sleeping bag. This solid blue sleeping bag with a built in foot warmer and pillow was a huge upgrade. I have since learned that it is not a mountain-ready upgrade, but at the time, it was much better than camping gear covered in spotted cartoon puppies.
Whatever the other prizes I took home that day have long been forgotten, but regardless, those items weren’t helping me as I shivered on a mountainside with an A.R. auction-won, 8th grade sleeping bag.
As I finished reading the last comic book I had downloaded, only twelve are downloadable at a time, I began to drift back off to a cold and restless sleep.
Still, my sleep-deprived mind was made up.
It was time for a new sleeping bag.