This is I

2 09 2010

I don't remember this picture. I may be asleep.

Camp was interesting.  I went there every year and met new people and did new things.  One interesting thing about the camp I went to every year was that none of the people at that camp (Except for my family and a couple of miscellaneous adults) knew anything about me other than what they learned about me while I was at camp.  This was interesting.  It was kind of like the first few weeks of dating someone, when you’re pretty sure they’re amazing, but you’re wary of spending more time with them the longer it goes because you suspect they can’t be that awesome (hint: they’re not.  At least, I’m not).

So, I kept going back to this camp for something like seven years.  I eventually roomed with one of the people I met there.  I visited a couple of other people from camp in 2005 on what was then my longest drive I’d ever taken.  I may have left some of my clothes at their house, and never got them back.  I believe my Bear Naked shirt was one of those items, and I got that shirt at camp along with Ian, another guy from camp.  Meaning that I bought the shirt and he bought one as well.  Not that I bought Ian at camp.  Although I did beat him at fake poker a couple times.

I went back to that camp last year as a counselor.  It was fantastic.  I had to check myself a couple of times when I started weirding out these 7th graders as I started telling them how much fun they were going to have at camp.  Some of them sort of believed me, but most of them just didn’t understand what I was trying to communicate.  I think they suspected me of something in the way kids suspect lifeguards of sinister motives when they tell them not to run by the pool.  Incidentally, I never liked the lifeguards at camp.  They were hired goons.  Water goons.

It’s hard to realize that I won’t have a place like camp again.  Not exactly like it, at least.  I’ll have other places, though.  And I’ll have camp, even if it turns into something different.  As I see my camp friends grow up and get married (sometimes to each other) or begin to wander from their faith or grow stronger in it, I wonder how present that eventual mentality was in all of us back then.  Was I already the psuedo-cynical writer destined to not be able to support himself through writing about being cynical and wearing…suede…shoes?  I don’t think so.  I think college (or the equivalent time period in most people’s lives of ideas becoming solidified and ideals beginning to supplant fantasies) probably did a lot of that.  I think that means camp can only do so much for you.  I thankfully stopped fairly early on trying to squeeze more dream realization out of camp — I made some good friends, and I made some embarrassing mistakes (You done goofed!), but at least I was never “that guy who…” at camp.  My reputation is something I value pretty highly, even if I’m sometimes too lazy to maintain it as well as I should.  I’m grateful I can still look people from camp in the eye (except for that stupid pointy unicorn), and I’m especially grateful for any opportunity to hand down such a great series of experiences and dreams (realized and ongoing alike) to some kids.  Whenever I start to get annoyed about having to think up new games for the kids on Thursday night…that’s what I’ll have to tell myself.

And seriously, I don’t remember EVER letting Joe take a picture with me.

Dating Myself

3 07 2009

And now, as promised:

Amy and I carpooled up to the Bay Area a couple of weeks to go; each of us had a wedding to attend, and that allowed me to meet up with John in Fresno (which was actually a good thing, despite the abundance of evidence to the contrary) after the weekend.  Eric and Julia’s wedding (which, with apologies to Julia, I still think of as “Eric’s wedding” so as to continue lamenting his exodus from bachelorhood) was nice, although the wedding party didn’t get to eat first at the reception, which took away about 3/4’s of my motivation for being in the wedding party at all.  Of course, it was special being involved and it meant a lot and BLAH FREAKIN’ BLAH.  Eric, if you’re reading this, you owe me food.  Or the feeling of being first in line to get food.  I don’t care if we have to run down to Hometown Buffet so you can push some people out of the way — I didn’t get all gussied up and shove a flower in my lapel just to sit around while all of your old, stinky relatives scarfed all the good food.  Besides, how am I supposed to set fire to the dance floor on an empty stomach?  By the time I was considering a third slice of cake, most of the songs were already over.

You did right with the recessional music (YOUR OWN ECONOMY JOKE HERE FOR $49.99) though.  I felt like a decorated wookiee walking back down the aisle for only the second time in my life, and I have you alone to thank for that.  Growlf!  (Growlf! is Wookiee for Bark!)

Highlights of the weekend:

-My suggesting that all the guys be careful using the low-flow toilet in Chateau le Hippie on Friday night, and Jeff promptly unloading a barrage of Drano-proof goodness upon it the following morning.  At least he bought them new towels.

-Cameron’s and my receiving a standing ovation for I Dreamed a Dream at some random Karaoke place in Napa.  There was some oddly stiff competition/really disturbing people.

-The hike through the forest of Endor.  Personally, I wouldn’t have minded some speeder-riding stormtroopers, especially when we got to the poison oak.  At least Alex survived to leave his shoes with me.

-Eric’s tasty presents that he made himself.  It was extra cool people Luke and Cameron’s got broken in transition.  Schadenfreude, or something like that.

-Cleansing my body with Alex outside the Spears’ living room window.  It’s less creepy than it sounds, but probably a little creepier than you might hope.

Summarily, it was a fantastic weekend.  Good people, good reasons to celebrate, and fond memories.  Eric, if I could ever choose a friend to get married twice, it would be you.  To Julia both times, but I do want another weekend like that.

* * * * *

Camp was wonderful.  My cabin was filled with largely docile 7th grade boys, although they were very “squirrelly’ (as Mrs. Hill put it) the instant I left.  Put that many jr. high boys in a room, I guess one shouldn’t be surprised.  Seeing Don, Susie, Tom, Marti, Craig, Ruth and everyone was exhilarating, and Renae and Marlyse helped make green time a rather emblematic color for the other, lesser teams.  Night games were all right, though the band and Daniel did their best to siphon off all the fun/fodder for their own amusement.  That’s probably been a dominant element for the past decade, though, so I supposed my complaints are largely groundless.

I’m never sure how to treat the emotions of kids that age, though.  I realize that encouraging a solely emotive attitude towards their lives will do the kids little to no good (at best) in the long run; however, I also have a lot of trouble figuring out what is sincere and what is, knowingly or not, affected sentiment after chapels and such.  I tended to look at the times I had to lay into the kids for fighting or breaking the rules as the more prominent instances of solid direction, but perhaps I’m completely overestimating the effect of situational discipline on kids.

It was very surreal to see the same dynamics among the campers  six years after I was last there.  Watching the awkward conversations with girls and the midweek apathy come like clockwork, I was relieved to see that my experience was much closer to the norm that I had thought at the time.  In fact, I had a pretty darn good one, all told.  The Friendship House is still a bastion of card games, but now it’s infested with hipster children playing Relient K sing-along.  Are you kidding me?

Pastor John was very effective, I think, at driving his points home.  I also discovered that Pastor Stuart was not the person I remembered, which is, I think, a good thing.  The after-hours conversations with the big people were really special, and I fully expect to return next year.  I also expect next year to be harder, as everyone seemed pleasantly surprised at how “great” this week went.   The first one’s always free…

* * * * *

If freedom isn’t free, why are we giving ours away so liberally today?

See you laters

16 06 2009

Impromptu Dodger game tonight, and we saw Kemp win it with a single in the bottom of the 10th, after a weird sequence that ended up being a Loney GIDP.

I will now depart for 12 days.  I am going to be a burden on some people, and an answer to prayer for others.  Look out world, here comes my vacation?

Oh, and happy birthday Juel.