Night 2: It was a dark and stormy night
Saturday August 4 to Sunday August 5
I don’t know how many of you have spent any time in a tent, but if you have, you know that a tent that is closed up in the hot sun is not a pleasant environment. It gets miserably hot, stuffy, and just yuck. Those little vents are not near sufficient to keep the thing cool. Even stripping off the rain fly and leaving the thing open to air out for couple of hours didn’t do much to cool it down before bedtime. And with the forecast calling for severe storms, we had to not only put the rain fly back on, we had to add a tarp over top to make sure we stayed nice and dry. Unfortunately, keeping out rain also means keeping out air. We did leave the door open so there was a little bit of airflow, but not enough. Needless to say, it was a struggle to fall asleep. At some point I had to strip out of my t-shirt and try to sleep in just my sports bra.
I just about fallen back to sleep after my wardrobe change when I heard the pitter patter of rain hitting the roof. So we zipped up the door and laid back down in our pink sauna and tried to sleep some more. It may have just been minutes, it may have been over an hour, not sure, but it didn’t seem like long before thunder started to roll. And following close behind was the blast of the air horn and the words, “Get up leave your tent and head for the Rec Center. Do not bring your stuff, you will be coming back” repeated over and over. We scavenged around our tent for our shoes, raincoats and flashlights and headed out to join the midnight mass exodus from the sea of pink.
We headed all the way across the camp to the Westlake Rec Center. I walked in the door and my first thought was air conditioning! Yay!! And seeing the line for the bathroom, my second thought was “toilets that flush! Must use them!” Since the majority of people around were women, and the line to the men’s room seemed non-existent, Becca was like “let’s just use the men’s”. So we did. Upon opening the door, we discovered that we weren’t the first to have that idea, because there was a line there too (just way shorter than for the women’s room). As we came out, some poor guy was asking, “how many people are in there?” Oops.
We entered the gym, which seems like a fairly large room, but with close to 700 people inside, it’s not so much. It was loud. Every noise seemed to echo. Becca and I found a spot on the floor at the far end near an emergency exit and tried to get comfortable. We sat with our backs against the window for a bit. But gym floors are hard on the poor tail bone. So I laid down, switching between my back and my side when the floor got too hard and uncomfortable.
There were sounds of conversations all around. I could hear people telling their experiences from the day, the stories of why they were walking, and about the people they were walking for. I lay there thinking about the 3 women in my family who have had breast cancer - my grandmother is a survivor, a great aunt is a survivor, and a cousin passed away after a long battle that began with breast cancer. Sitting in the gym and throughout the weekend, listening to the people tell their stories of how breast cancer has affected their families - multiple family members battling it multiple times - I couldn't help but feel oddly blessed that my family has been left relatively unscathed. I know that seems weird to say (and I'm having trouble putting my thoughts into words here) given that my 3 went through the hardship and pain and struggling and fear of the disease, and 3 people having to deal with that is 3 too many. But it has been only 3. And God-willing, it will remain only 3. I don't want someone at some future walk to be talking about someone in my family when they're telling the story of a mother of 3 children under 8 who fought and won a hard battle with breast cancer, only to be told a couple of years later that she had it again. I don't want my brother, or one of my cousins, to be the guy in the pink bodysuit and tutu walking for his wife. I want my cousin's 8 month old daughter to not have to ever, ever worry about breast cancer. With those heavy thoughts running through my mind, I think I may have dozed a bit.
But not for long, because I was soon awakened by the annoying squeak of shoes on the floor, people cheering, and an out-of-tune version of the National Anthem. The safety crew was killing time by putting on the “the 3-day Olympics.” Amusing for some, slightly annoying for others – I just wanted to get some sleep.
At about 2am, after almost 2 hours in the gym, we got the all clear to head back to our tents. It was still raining but supposedly the storm was over. We took another opportunity to use the lovely indoor plumbing, and headed out into the rain to our tent. There were a few tent casualties in the form of some empty ones blown over by the wind. Thankfully our tarp stayed on and seemed to have served its purpose. As we unzipped the door, there was a really spectacular flash of lightning and another roll of thunder. We tried to pretend we didn’t hear it, and Becca was sure they were going to make us go back to the gym. But supposedly, it was just “cloud lightning” and was staying high enough in the air that it wasn’t a threat.
So we climbed into the tent to find it mostly dry and cooler. Yay! We climbed back onto our pool float air mattresses that felt as soft and comfy as feather beds, and were soon sleeping the rest of the very short night away.