Midnight Breakfast

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A Prayer for Glampers

by Benjamin Samuel

To the great creator of this land and all the splendor I see before me: great job. It’s stunning. Only a few hundred miles outside Brooklyn—thank God Simon has a car—and it’s like we’re somewhere completely different. Just put down your iPhone for a second and look around. This is what they mean by “majestic.” That tree over there—the tall one, beyond that stumpy crooked one that only a Lorax could love—that’s why people fought so many wars over this land. That tree is literally the embodiment of “purple mountain’s majesty.” This park is anthemic, motherfucker. And we’re in it. Also, I got dibs on ‘Gramming that tree later.

The air here, it feels so blessed. And same for the stars and the animals and everything else. Except for the poison ivy, which is all over the place. Carter shared a pneumonic to keep us safe: “Leaves of three? Rub it on Steve.” But doesn’t every plant have at least three leaves? If it doesn’t it’s probably dead. Anyway, it’s that kind of danger that makes you feel so alive. The park ranger at the check-in—best job ever, I bet his Instagram rocks—told Marcus that more bears live in these hills than people. Which is nuts because bears are definitely endangered.

If I was a bear, I’d live here. It’s probably better than Iceland or Canada or wherever other bears eke out their meager, ursine existence. This park is practically made from bear food. For instance, Wendy said she saw a wild fish just sitting there in the creek—and what a perfect word for that old little river, just creaking away. If we run out of lox, I’m going to eat that fish bear-style.

Being here changes you, and I’m grateful for that. It’s a chance to appreciate life and all the little things you didn’t even know existed. Like those little flowers that Carmen found that didn’t smell like flowers or anything at all. What’s the point of flowers that don’t smell? God, nature is just so fucking Zen.

Matthew said when we pulled up to our campsite, it was like that scene in Contact when Jodie Foster is in her space-time machine, looking at the swirling universe, and she starts crying and says it’s so beautiful that they should’ve sent a poet instead (I mean, sure, or probably an astronaut). Matthew was right. It’s so beautiful here it makes me feel like Jodie Foster.

Camping is like being inside a poem. Camping is like spending a weekend inside Walt Whitman’s beard. I feel like I could poem about these wilds—or maybe I’ll just Vine the living hell out of that songbird. But you don’t have to channel Kerouac to appreciate this life. The point is to be here, to be present, and just simply experience shit. It’s about reflection and observation and not thinking about the outside world. I mean, I could totally see myself just renting a tree house and summering out here. I’d tell everyone back home that they can find me just bearing it up, living life in a raccoon hat. I’ll be in the land, a part of nature like moss or mountain dew. And they can come visit me anytime right here or at likeabearinthewoods.tumblr.com.

Benjamin Samuel is Co-Editor of Electric Literature and co-founder of its weekly fiction magazine, Recommended Reading. You can find him in Brooklyn.

Illustration by Jason Novak

“A Prayer for Glampers" is excerpted from an as-yet-unpublished, multi-authored volume titled A Book of Uncommon Prayer.

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