When you graduate college, it is a huge party, party after party, and everybody is throwing a party. If you are a very social being, you’ll get invited to quite a few of them. On the other hand, if you are like my friends and me, you won’t have any big plans the weeks after your graduation. It’s not that sad, though, there’s no need to worry about us. We had each other, and there were six of us, that’s enough good company to last a lifetime.
Well, it was enough for us so, whatever. There was me, of course, a history major, that learned more Spanish than history — my modern languages major friend, Tess, who memorized more historical facts than classic English literature books. Then, Toby and Sam, the twins; Toby didn’t go to college, he just showed up for Sam sometimes because they just looked so much alike and the only way they’d get a philosophy degree was with a team effort like that. We also had Gaby, the brilliant mind that studied psychology and Johnny, who almost died in the process but finally made it through med school.
Now, anyone might wonder, what did the six of us have in common? Absolutely nothing, it seemed, at first sight. But if you looked twice, if you were to have a short conversation with any of us, you’d notice that we all had a deep, deep, serious love and passion for nature. We were Mother Nature’s kids.
We loved absolutely anything and everything that had to do with nature. We all used to be of those little kids that were always covered in mud somehow, that had grass and leaves on their hair and that surprisingly never caught a cold because we were little warriors that could survive any change in weather because we just had to be outside. When that kind of children grow up, there’s only one thing left to do: we rent an RV, and we go out driving and camping all over Florida on our vacations after college.
We all graduated, but we were not spectacular enough to have jobs lined up waiting in front of us right after college. So, technically, we could take our time, and that was exactly the plan. We got the vehicle, and we were excited as little kids with a new skateboard. It wasn’t exactly new, but it wasn’t of the creepy kind that had an odd smell, odd colors on the carpet and looked like someone had died in there.
No, this RV was comfortable, trustworthy, simply nice. And since we were overly excited about this trip, naturally we decided it was only logical to decorate the space. We were silly about it. We found a way to hang pictures, and we brought decorative pillows and quilts for the seating area, we put flowers in plastic vases, even a rug, maybe two, it was like we all took a piece of our homes and pushed them inside the vehicle.
Next, there was the actual trip. We were lucky enough that it coincided with the end of winter. The cool weather was going away but it was comfortable enough, we didn’t find ourselves complaining a lot about the temperature or anything. We started moving at our own pace, making annoying stops at almost every twenty minutes or so just because we could, we took turns to drive, we even took the time to teach me how to drive! We weren’t even following the usual paths for driving an RV, and we were doing things our own way. We evaded your regular RV sites, and we went right through the middle of cities and every park that seemed decent enough that’s where we would spend the night.
But of course, we took trips to the most important places, according to us, at least. We weren’t in the mood to deal with big crowds and do everything anyone with an RV does. The fact was that having the six of us there together was enough. We were having so much fun just being in that vehicle and improvising games, hanging out, living like protagonists of our own stories, like people out of a fiction book, pretending we were running away, pretending we were looking for someone, pretending we weren’t humans, pretending we were solving a crime across the country, just pretending and having fun because we were serious adults like that.
About those genuinely important places to visit. We had all the time in the world, and we weren’t exactly getting bored. So, when I said we went all across Florida, I meant it. We attempted to see it all. We visited State Parks as if our lives depended on it. We went to St. George’s Island State Park, we visited the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, we made a stop at Henderson Beach State Park, we took our time at Manatee Springs State Park, and my personal favorite was Rainbow Springs, State Park. It was like crossing things off a bucket list. But what someone would plan for years, we did it in weeks. We could have done it in maybe days but, as I said, we were moving at our own pace.
The end of the story is almost not worth sharing, because to be honest no one really ever wants to hear about the moment when fiction ends and reality begins, when vacations end and crushing reality comes back, when we have to give our precious RV away and take all our belongings home with us as we looked for desperately needed jobs. But I just want to say that we did a great job at, well, finding jobs, because flash forward to the next year and we actually, as a group that remains great friends, we bought the RV! Yes, with our own adult people money! We are grown ups that now apparently have a tradition.