I feel the gravel rustle beneath my feet and my mind wanders back to the long, noisy road that was the entrance to summer camp in Northern Alabama. My stomach was always relieved when we finally made that infamous right turn after the lone 7-Eleven on the corner.
I have never been one for windy roads in the car, even as a child. One too many "mishaps" in a friend of a friend's parent's expensive, leather-seat car made me more than aware of this fact. And ANY time when we reached our final destination after more than an hour in the car and I walked away with clean pants was a major victory.
When my mother and I got out to unload, claim a bed, and take a walk around camp, I would remain fairly quiet at first. Observing from my secret hideaway in the woods, just waiting for the lion to move on and find his new prey.
Rest Hour was always my favorite part of camp.
Designed to be a quiet time to reenergize before the second half of the exhaustingly hot, give-me-a-popsicle-or-I-will-die kind of day, rest hour was nothing but quiet. Beds squeaked, feet shuffled, giggles contagiously spread across the cabin. Our counselor would begin the hour with loads of “Sshhing”, but halfway through, she would undoubtedly surrender to the madness of the Jonathan Taylor Thomas obsessed preteens.
I remember two girls who refused to go by anything but “Bubble Gum” and “Tic-Tac”. And I remember thinking that was weird at the time, but now I only wish I would have been as brave as them to go by Tic-Tac as a 12 year old.
I remember when a girl whose bunk was across from mine told my friend Amy she was pretty.
The look on Amy's face revealed she had never believed that to be true.
I remember the summer the girls in my cabin changed outfits every hour and spent increasing minutes in front of the mirror trying to make their eyelashes curl so that their eyes would "pop".
But I didn’t pack enough clothes for this, I thought to myself.
I don’t know how to make my eyelashes curl like that.
I like my eyelashes as they are.
That was the same summer the girls and the boys started pairing up and holding hands as they walked down the hill back to the cabin. And then my friends started getting "dates" to the dance. That seemed odd to me. Why can’t we all just go together, I wondered? Why so many couples?
That was the summer camp felt foreign to me.