Debra Carpenter: Spending a birthday underground

A lot of people will tell you that as long as you’re above ground, you’re doing well. That’s not necessarily true.
Aug 5, 2013
Debra Carpenter, Mother, Interrupted

A lot of people will tell you that as long as you’re above ground, you’re doing well. That’s not necessarily true. 

What about being underground – in a cave? My husband decided he wanted to spend his birthday exploring a local cave. While I wasn’t entirely enthusiastic at first (I’ll get to that in a minute), I came around and ended up getting a killer workout out of it. Also, it made me feel really adventurous and daring because I could have possibly died in there. The chances were small and insignificant (just how I like it), but there was a chance, OK?

My lack of cave-related enthusiasm wasn’t without reason. When my husband and I first started dating and we were still trying to impress each other, he asked me to accompany him and a friend into a cave. Underground. The only female with two males that I hardly knew. With no cell phone service, or anyone who could hear my potential cries for help. 

Being the bright, discriminate eighteen year old I was, I agreed. I shudder at the thought of my daughter one day making irrational decisions like that, but let’s move on. I went, and when I noticed the last speck of daylight had completely disappeared in this underground chamber, I realized my mistake. I didn’t know these boys well at all (at the time), and I had never been in a cave before. I was relying on them to guide us through the cave. It occurred to me that maybe they were leading me to a slow, painful demise. I hadn’t even told anyone where I would be! No one would know where to find me if I went missing. I started to panic. But I continued to try and act “normal,” in case they really were psychopaths. I didn’t want to anger them unnecessarily or let them know I was onto their (nonexistent) evil plan. 

Suddenly, a voice came from the other end of the cavernous room Michael and I sat in. It sang, “I wanna be where the people are. I wanna see, wanna see them dancing. Walking along on those…what do you call them? Oh, feet!” It was a song from my favorite Disney movie, The Little Mermaid! Michael’s friend (or as I had begun to imagine – his henchman) was singing Disney songs, enthusiastically and without shame! I knew no danger could possibly come from a man who knew every word to songs from The Little Mermaid, so I immediately felt relieved. I joined in, and together we sang the entire song. I survived the ordeal and felt a bit ridiculous for being scared, but relieved nonetheless when we reached the surface again.

I can laugh about my heart-stopping fear and paranoia in the cave now, almost five years later. But the uneasy feeling the cave gave me stayed with me all this time. So when my husband said he wanted to go spelunking for his birthday, I agreed, but wasn’t thrilled. However, since I am now nearly 99.9 percent sure my husband isn’t a psychopath or one-half of a murderous duo, I did feel a little better about caving. I bravely suited up in my ugliest clothes and boots and mentally prepared for the underground adventure. We dropped my daughter off with her grandparents for the day and made our way to the cave.

It turned out to be incredibly fun, slightly dangerous, and extremely wet and muddy. I was so busy enjoying our exploration that I completely forgot to be paranoid or sing a verse from The Little Mermaid for old time’s sake. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I’m willing to go back! 

When we showed our daughter pictures from our little expedition, she was amazed. “You were under the ground? But how did you get there? Did you dig?” She wasn’t offended in the slightest that she didn’t accompany us. After she saw the pictures, we asked if she would like to go into the cave one day. 

She replied “No, you and Daddy can go underground. I’ll just stay at Grammy’s.” That’s a smart girl.

Lebanon native Debra Fulcher Carpenter writes when she isn’t studying, or when she’s procrastinating. Mostly when she’s procrastinating. She is a young housewife, student and mom. Email her at interruptedmom@gmail.com or visit the website at motherinterrupted.com.

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