Something I’ve been thinking about lately is the importance of getaways for LTRs. I’ve been with my fiancée for four years, and, for New Year’s Eve, we decided that we needed to get away together and “reset our relationship.” We occasionally do this—it’s like we have to physically go somewhere else to get some emotional perspective on our life.
Sometimes, when you are together for a while, things start to get kind of unpleasant at home—you get busy, and tired, and you just start to lose appreciation for each other. You find yourselves fighting over everything for no reason. Things that used to charm you, like her collection of Ninja Turtles action figures that she props up on the top of the microwave, suddenly seem unbearable, and also, kind of flammable. Whenever that happens, my advice is to pack your bags and get out of town (together!), have a bunch of hotel sex and just “reset” it. At least, that usually seems to work for us.
On New Years, my fiancée and I really wanted to go on a getaway, but neither of us had money for a hotel. So we settled for the next best thing: a free campsite. Yes, like camping. Outside. It would be great! We would only need our tent, our sleeping bags, and each other. I pictured us roasting s’mores on the first day of 2015, looking into each other’s eyes (instead of our phones) and talking about REAL STUFF (whatever that means).
I just feel like, when you’ve been with someone so long, sometimes you actually forget to talk. You end up just conveying information, like whether the dog got fed, or if the dishes are clean, but you don’t sit by a river and really get into the meaning of life (remember first dates, when you sat by the river and got into to the meaning of life?). There just isn’t time and, for the most part, you already know how she feels about life by now. Probably.
So I was picturing an amazing getaway that would be like a “reset” button for my life and for our relationship. And, best of all, it would be free!
Hey, remember that old saying “things are free for a reason?” If that is not a saying, it needs to be. We got to the campsite, only after driving three hours outside of L.A. and then ten miles on a gravel road into the middle of the desert. Far away, but free!
Something that I forgot about deserts—they might be nice and warm during a winter day, but they get really, really cold at night. Somehow, we both kind of forgot about that. Probably because we were so busy talking about who fed the dog. But here we were, in the middle of a desert in the middle of nowhere, and we were determined to make the best of it.
We got out of the car and pitched our tent on the big, huge, endless layer of dust before us. We started making s’mores and getting excited about seeing stars and about really talking! Yay! (It’s moments like these when you realize that the reason the two of you are still together is that you are the same, compatible version of crazy).
As the moon got brighter and the sun went away, it started to get really freezing. Our poor dog was shaking and looking at us like we were the most evil people who had ever lived. We zipped ourselves, and the dog, into our sleeping bags and tried to go to sleep. But no one did. Not because it was cold, but because all night, my fiancée kept waking me up and saying that she heard something outside the tent. “You didn’t hear anything,” I said. “Stop waking me up!”
“I’m worried,” she kept telling me. “I saw that there’s a guy camping not too far from here in his RV alone…what if he’s a bad guy?”
“He’s not a bad guy,” I said. “Campers are good people. There is like an unspoken understanding between campers…you don’t murder each other.” I was, of course, making this up, but I really just wanted to go to sleep and lose awareness of the fact that I was freezing.
“Are you sure?” she asked. And we proceeded to repeat this question/answer forum about the RV guy for the next six hours.
The next day was rough. Neither of us had gotten any sleep at all, and the RV guy never came around to kill us. I made fun of my fiancée for being scared of a camper. She laughed and apologized. She promised she would never do it again. We both laughed some more at how silly she was. We ate some more s’mores, and a lot of hot dogs, and went on a hike, and dug around in the dirt, and before we knew it, it was night again.
The second night, I was really looking forward to getting sleep. But once again, my fiancée decided to wake me up with another crazy story about something trying to kill us. This time, she got me up at 2 a.m. to tell me that we were surrounded by coyotes.
Obviously, I didn’t believe her. After all, she was now officially the “boy who cried wolf,” or, the girl who cried “RV guy” and “coyote.” I told her to go back to bed, but she begged me to believe her.
“Please, we have to go to the car,” she said. Something in her voice really scared me, so I agreed. We got into the car and it was three times colder than the tent and a million times less comfortable. I tried to curl up with our dog on the back seat, but I was freezing and SO MAD. I came out here to be outdoorsy, not to be living inside some kind of Toyota commercial.
“You are really annoying me!” I shrieked in the car in the middle of the desert. “Why are you such a cry baby!”
“I’m sorry,” she said, I hear coyotes and I think they want to eat us.. or maybe our dog.
“Remember last night? Remember how the RV guy didn’t kill us?” I asked, “Remember how you apologized and said you’d never do this again? I didn’t come out to the desert to SLEEP IN A CAR.”
“I’m sorry,” she said, “let’s go back to the tent.”
As soon as had we zipped ourselves back into our sleeping bags in the tent, that’s when I heard it. Multiple coyotes yipping, like crazy, wild desert dogs who live by no rules at all and would gladly eat our heads off AND take our s’mores. I looked out the tent window, and I could see their green eyes getting closer, and closer, and closer.
“Okay,” I said, “um, you were right. I was wrong. I see coyotes now. I believe you.” I whipped out my iPhone (so much for “unplugging) and started Googling madly “How to prevent coyotes from coming into your campsite.” I ended up on some WikiHow page that said, “Preventing coyotes is easy! All you need to do is build a six-foot fence, with one foot underneath the ground because they are extremely clever and will dig under it.”
“Hey honey?” I asked, “can we build a six-foot fence real quick?” She just stared at me in pure fear. “Ok, just kidding—let’s get back in the car.”
Once we all got back into our trusty Toyota and reclined the seats all the way back, and then zipped ourselves into our sleeping bags for the fourth time that night, we pulled out a bottle of whiskey and started taking shots and took turns reading more and more horrifying facts on the internet about coyotes.
It was one of the most fun memories I will ever have of things we have done together. I mean there we were, were defying death together—beating the odds! I guess that is how couples feel when they go couples skydiving. But I don’t think I ever want to do that.
Every once in a while, as we huddled in our safe car, we would look out the window to see those hungry green eyes, still lingering by our tent, and we would drink more whiskey and laugh defiantly, and then get scared and start checking that the car was locked 80 more times. Eventually, we fell asleep.
“Hey, I’m really sorry,” I told her in the morning, “you were totally right. And you’re not a cry baby—you’re a hero. Thanks to you, we didn’t start 2015 by getting eaten.”
“I’m like the Ross Gellar,” she said. “You think I’m a wuss, but actually, you really need me.”
It’s true. Ross is a pretty cool guy, even if he is the dorkiest cool guy you know. He might seem kind of pathetic at times, but then you realize that he’s actually just sensitive. And being sensitive is a skill that, apparently, can help you in matters of survival.
My fiancée and I went to the desert to reset our relationship and it worked. First, because it was a reminder that you have to trust each other. You can’t just assume that because your partner messed up one time, that they are going to mess up every time. Being wrong about an RV murderer doesn’t make you wrong about the coyotes that are right outside your house made of fabric. You can’t hold the past over her head every single day, or every time she says something—it isn’t fair. And you could get eaten. Powerful lessons.
The second reason the camping trip worked is that we were both instilled with a serious dose of fear that only the great outdoors can provide. It’s refreshing, you know? Like, after almost getting eaten, neither of us care about whether the dishes are clean anymore. It’s just really not that big of a deal.
Have ideas for LTR topics you want to hear about? Know a great LTR couple we should interview? Send them to LTRadvice@gmail.com.
Caitlin Bergh (@caitlinebergh) is a stand-up comic. Visit www.caitlinbergh.com for more info.