August 16, 2008

Summer Nights

Tonight, on what feels like the hottest night of the year, I'm feeling nostalgic. I want to blame it on the Summer Olympics, or the fact that for the first time in 11 years I'm starting a new job, or possibly my 32nd birthday that passed relatively quietly last Sunday (a little too quietly dear family --ahem-- not a single call from anyone? Katie, still waiting to hear from you?). But it's really the warm August weather, and the fact that I've been spending too much time on Facebook.

I KNOW. Okay. I sound like an idiotic teenager.

But something interesting happened after I started using the Facebook account I signed up for two years ago and hadn't touched until a month ago. I ran into a couple of friends I hadn't heard from in a long time. Friends I really hadn't talked to since high school. And then I decided to look for someone I really wanted to talk to, a friend from England that I haven't spoken to in a a while, and I found her, which connected me to someone I wasn't expecting to see, my first girlfriend from years ago.

Which brings me back to the nostalgic feeling.

Every year about this time I get a little bit "Camp Sick." Once upon a time I was a camp counselor at Camp Winacka Girl Scout Camp in San Diego. I was hired as I was graduating high school and did the job for two and a half summers (leaving part way through my third summer ill with mono). The job involved spending just over two months in a rustic cabin camping situation with kids ranging in age from 5 - 18. Sometimes the campers were even a few months older than we were as counselors. Most of my time was spent at Rocky Ridge, with the horses.

Every single day it was hot. And not 80 or 90 degrees, I'm talking close to or over 100 degrees. Sweating was a way of life. I remember being miserably hot. But I don't remember being unhappy. I remember everyone glowing with healthy tans, hiking everywhere, and sleeping in open-air cabins or under the stars in the few cool hours we got ever night. Rarely did I go to bed before 2AM. Late evening were the only time staff had to spend together camper-free for meetings or, lets face it, to flirt. We gladly awoke at 5AM with red, bleary eyes and intimate knowledge of our coworkers. Get your minds out of the gutter, we were just talking for Gawd's sake!

During that time, every emotion felt raw, and every nerve felt alive in that way that it does when you're a teenager and everything is life and death. I had my first taste of living away from home and was falling in love for the first time, a relationship that was fraught with drama that thankfully has become a good friendship this many years later.

Re-reading my journal entries from that time (something I rarely do) finds far too many with statements overwrought with emotion I could barely contain. I wrote like crazy at the time (I remember having to leave meals or other events sometimes and frantically search out paper and pen to unleash my feelings somewhere), unsure of what to do about caring for another woman so strongly. I couldn't even tell her!

My favorite night was spent with my British friend, Scotty, at Sunset Rock, so named because it overlooked a large valley from an outcropping and you would sit and watch gorgeous sunsets from that vantage point. One evening we climbed to Sunset Rock after dark and laid out on the warm stone. Looking up we counted over 60 shooting stars she listened to me tell her what I had been keeping secret all Summer long. I don't remember what she said to me, or if she hugged me, but I do remember that I felt reassured and loved, and that nothing changed.

That is the night that I feel a sweet longing for on hot, sweaty days. I even miss the sharp pain and intense sting of those feelings I had those summers. But I've given in to maturity and anti-depressants.

All I feel is the heat.

Posted by Ensie at 03:14 AM | Comments (105) | TrackBack