I am sitting here with damp eyes and chapping cheeks, sad and sure: I am not going to do camp this summer. Feeling what I am feeling, now, without it making me doubt myself and without it becoming a headache, a tantrum, a random cruelty, a volcanic eruption, is a new confidence. I am not doing camp, and that’s what I want, and I am sad.
Immediately after I sent the email to all of my camp families, notes started pouring in. I already miss these kids. There are some seriously shining people who show up smiling and eager on all those groggy, foggy mornings and leave, filthy and still smiling, on those popsicle-sweet afternoons. I’ve watched some of them grow from bulges, to babies, to little siblings who wanted their short turn on the swing, to four year olds finally grown into their turn to be campers, to old hats. I’ve watched shy kindergarteners who only wanted to pretend to be unicorns become sapling seventh graders. And I’ve grown up, too. I was eighteen that first year, which is crazy. Camp put me through college and grad school and four years of hermetic novel-writing. I’ve come back from Stanford and Petrolia and Montana and Oakland and Spain and Seattle for camp. I have said no to so many other ways to spend a summer, that all those other things have become nearly invisible. Now, my summer is wide open. The whole idea of summer is wide open. I am excited and kind of terrified. And as you can tell, already nostalgic.
I have been so lucky to have work I enjoy and excel at, that pays me well, and makes something beautiful in the world. I hope my work can always be like this. And I hope all those kids continue to play outside and get dirty and invent things and run and eat wild berries and sing and hide in the ferns and to do their damnedest to be kind to people and gentle with animals and like themselves and to care about the world. And I hope that whatever comes in to fill the void of camp makes me feel excited and alive.