“We need to get more logs for the pit,” my boyfriend’s dad said to him as we made our way back to camp. “We can get some before dinner.”
It was then I noticed the brick-and-stone fire pit in the camp. It looked like the bottom of a chimney that had been sliced open, but then again, I hadn’t gone camping since high school (and even then I would use the term “camping” very loosely) so I had no idea what a fire pit was supposed to look like. I noticed, too, the four adirondack chairs located in front of the pit, evenly spread out. I smiled to myself at the thought of sitting in front of the fire later that night, then shivered as the chilly breeze ran through my hair, lifting it off my shoulders ever so slightly.
I forgot about the potential for a bonfire in the hubbub that was dinner with three (adorable and very sweet) children aged five and under. Once the chaos was over, I went inside to throw on the oversized sweatshirt my boyfriend’s parents had lent me since I hadn’t thought to pack anything warm enough for a surprisingly cool weekend. I wondered why no one else was inside — and then I heard the unmistakable crackling sound of wood fueling fire.
Grabbing my Kindle and my phone, I slipped my feet into flip flops and made my way over to the pit. My boyfriend and his parents were already there, leaving one of the middle chairs open for me. Wordlessly, I sat down and opened my Kindle to begin reading. Everyone was already on their digital devices; I had to catch up. I felt awkward breaking the silence, plus I didn’t know what to say, so I just looked down and concentrated on my book. What was there to say anyway, when there was the crackling of the bonfire and the rustle of the leaves in the trees to listen to as each of us read?
We sat there for hours, though it didn’t feel nearly as long because the experience was so simple and pure in its pleasure. It was fitting that I was reading Nicole Dieker’s The Biographies of Ordinary People, a novel about the ordinary experiences of an ordinary family living, well, an ordinary life. Sitting in front of this bonfire and reading with my boyfriend and his family is my own ordinary experience in my ordinary life, I remember thinking to myself. I wonder, if Meredith — or any of the Grubers, or even MacAllisters or Seths — spent a night reading by a bonfire, would Nicole have put it in the book?
Then my boyfriend’s mom suggested we make s’mores. Her suggestion became more than that when she learned that I hadn’t made s’mores since high school, and I was so excited because I love anything sweet. My boyfriend went inside to get the supplies, and soon enough we had all speared marshmallows to roast over the open flames. I was overly cautious since I knew it took no time for marshmallows to burn, and I wanted mine golden brown and gooey but not burnt. My boyfriend stuck a Reese’s peanut butter cup inside his marshmallow for maximum goodness. I stuck mine between a Hershey’s chocolate bar and graham cracker and felt the distinct satisfaction one gets with a perfectly roasted marshmallow when its gooeyness got all over my fingers.
Too soon after that, the night was over. It was late and everyone was tired; plus, my boyfriend and I had a seven hour drive home the next day. We watched the last of the logs turn into ash, and then sprinkled water over the smoldering wood to ensure everything was extinguished. Then, marshmallow spears in hand, we made our way inside, bidding farewell to the bonfire till the next time.