Adam’s Summer Purgatory, 2008 (2013)

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A few years ago my father bought a Marmot tent with a yellow rain fly that provided my shelter during my first two seasons as a tree planter. It is purple on the interior, made of a thin Gore-Tex, and holds up quite well in rain and snow. It is small: just big enough for one person and his things, provided that person is comfortable changing while laying down.

I set up the tent in my father’s living room and found a massive hole, about two feet long: a right angle, on the floor near where my head would rest.

I stitched the hole the best I could by folding the Gore-Tex over itself, and was left with an oddly shaped pinch surrounded by numerous, rippling, errant folds. Threads were hanging off the pinch on the outside of the tent, and though I thought it would be impermeable to insects and small animals, it would not hold out water.

I opened the tent instructions and found two 2" x 2" vinyl patches - far too small for my purposes. I recognized an area of my sewing that was particularly loose, and I used one of the patches to cover it. I continued to read the instructions and found a mention of something called seam-sealer. I went out to buy it and returned with a small, six-dollar bottle of goop that I glopped over the entire hairy wound.

Twenty minutes later I pulled the cut apart to see if it had dried. As I pried, the gooey seam sealer stuck to both sides of the gape and stretched out in long strands that reminded me of an unfortunate college professor whose saliva seemed to grow more viscous over the course of the class, until it was visible from everywhere in the classroom, holding in several spots to both top and bottom teeth and stretching between in thin strands that bowed and went slack with her breathing. I woke this morning to find it a sticky, porous, threaded mess. I debated buying an entirely new tent, which would put me $500 further into the red before even beginning my work.

Was I really going to stick this out? Would I make it through the season? Buying a new tent would make it much more difficult to leave. The alternative: maybe being wet for days, weeks.

I found some super glue in a cabinet in my father’s kitchen and glued the folds, giving the dressing greater strength. I then used the remaining vinyl patch over a particularly troublesome area. When the glue had stiffened, I duct taped the whole thing, in a massive 12” x 12” square.

It is raining hard.

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