Did you ever sit out in the sun a little too long and feel like your skin was baking? For the last few days, that’s how I felt. I was nearing the end of my week-long chaperoning trip and I was definitely getting burnt. Flip me over – I was done.
The kids were actually amazingly good the whole time, but the dorm, the smell, the creaky cement slab beds, the smell, the communal showers, the smell, the mystery meat dorm food, the smell and the long trek down to our basement prison cell was starting to get to me.
I had three more days to go and as much as I loved my cellmate, I had no idea how I was going to sleep another night in that box.
Due to a strange coincidence, my two oldest daughters were at a swim meet a few blocks away staying at a cushy hotel with my husband. I went to visit them when they first got into town and I felt like little orphan Annie going to visit Daddy Warbucks for the first time. Not only was the palace beautiful, but their room had it's own bathroom - they even had a shower with a door. That you could lock. And you could be by yourself. I sighed with envy.
My chaperoning duties called and I went back to the prison. I was met with puke on the steps. After leaping over the lovely gift, I slid my card to get through a thousand locks. Eventually I got to the top of the cold, hard gray stairs that were to take me down to the dungeon otherwise known as my basement dorm room. As I made my way down the four hallways to the cell, the faint smell of Doritos, Cheetos mixed with body odor started making it's way to my nose. It got stronger as I opened our door. My amazing roommate was in there doing some work - we both looked at each other and just giggled. It's an experience that we could never quite explain, but we also couldn't help but crack up every time we made eye contact with one another.
Every night when the girls went to bed, I worked like an elf and gave them a new surprise on their door. The first night I made posters, the second I made all kinds of silly signs on notecards. That night I taped wrapped gum balls all over their door and made sure they were all asleep. I came back to my cellmate and told her I just needed to sleep. She's a great sleeper, but I was getting just a couple hours a night. A tear was coming to my eye but I'm not sure if it was from the stench or the emotional breakdown of a sleep deprived person. She looked up at me and just said, "Go - Everyone is asleep, I got this. Go."
All I could say was thank you and I ran out the door, making a beeline straight back to the palace.
Normally I hate hotels. But I've never been so happy to see one. It was the first time I was able to shower in peace. Nobody talked to me and I didn't have to wear flip flops. It was awesome. However in my haste, I forgot to grab pajamas or tomorrow's clothes. I put on my husband's XXL t-shirt and boxer shorts. I was so happy.
I set my alarm for 6am to make sure I got back before anyone woke up. It was dark in the room and I didn't want to wake up my swimmers, so I just grabbed my id, phone, key and snuck out the door.
Shit. As soon as it shut, I realized I was still in the T and boxers. I slid past the front desk and out the front door. Safe. Then I ran into a swim mom - she just kind of laughed and said I looked like I was doing a walk of shame.
Technically, I guess I was. No big deal. It was before 7 in the morning and no way anyone else would be awake on the way to the dorms.
I passed a construction crew. One whistled. I just gave him a big thumbs up. I also didn't realize I had to walk past a sea of medical students that made their way down our street every morning for their shift. I felt safe when I reached my dorm. Until the boy's soccer team from Ecuador politely held the doors open for me. I wish I could understand what they where whispering about when I walked by.
When I was safely in the room, I wondered if the stress of it all was worth it.
At 7:15, I knocked on the doors and woke up the girls for breakfast. At the end of the line of rooms, I turned around and ran right into my Canadian friend that saw me naked a couple of nights before and he said his familiar, "Hey Dair"
Yep, I was definitely going back after lights out.
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