2003 was my favorite summer at camp. There were twelve of us in the cabin of Breezeway. They were all my dear friends—each one. Each one. We all—as a collective, with no additions or subtractions--came back two more summers. These were my sisters. And it began in Breezeway 2003. We lip-synced to “I Want You to Want Me.” Our bathhouse duty was to Windex the mirrors and sinks. KHo would spray and I would paper towel. The second to last night of camp we slept on the beach in sleeping bags. We took so many pictures, and when summer was well-over, when I was back in AP Euro and doodling around the sophomore locker bay, I got them developed—lots of up-close blurry eyes and braces glints.
This summer I counseled the young women of Breezeway 2013. Eight completely unique forces. And from the beginning I loved them. I’ve said I have loved children before, and I meant it. Kind of. Like, everyone “loves” the youth in their experience. But, these ones, they were at times challenging, asked the tough questions, appeared not to listen, absorbed stories and repeated them, sang, asked me to get the mail even if I was sopping wet, cheered for one another, grew impatient with everything, were grateful infinitely for hot cinnamon scones. And I love them. I would do anything for them.
And in the night, or, heck, in the day, sometimes my sisters were there too. Their presence. KDunt was on staff this summer—repping our clan hard. The rest? Well, some I saw at the October wedding, some in college, one not since our last year as campers. But. I feel their lessons and love with me. They carry me on and up. When my kids giggled, so did every Breezeway girl through the years. The rustles around us, the gentle clouds. The sandy wood floors. The lake. This was once my home, now again. There, in the back right corner, that’s where I slept and where all those daddy long legs attached Marns and there, on the back stoop, that’s where I watched the first sunset of the summer with Slou. We told each other all the freshman year secrets.
My campers wrote their names on the walls with black Sharpie and pointed out where mine had been written in red a decade earlier. I walked the cabin one final time, closing down after they had gone. Excited to be a real person again. Genuinely missing the kids. Tired. I found in a teeny corner: “Alice S_______ is the coolest.” My throat clenches. My heart rises in my chest, overflows.