Monday, June 21, 2010

Staff Training 2010: an incomplete account.

And after the library, I organized Beth's file cabinet, Beth's office closet, and some bits of the equipment room. I found sunscreen from 1989, and an old-timey snorkel mask. DIBS.

Living on the same plot of land as David is not easy, but is (usually) not as unbearable as I had feared it might be. Although I did write some depressing poetry the other night while he played Ninja Burger with some of the other staff. //emo emo, yes. But I manned up, thanks to lovelybeautifulwonderful Victoria, and Alkulana Challenged--the smallest ever, with just the two of us and Kelly, but also my first time sans cheating/bathing suit--and then did puzzles in the dining hall and acted nonchalant when questioned by incredulous new staff.

"Did you streak into the water?"
"You don't streak in the water, you skinnydip."

The water at night is so beautiful, so lovely and just warm enough. The smell is so clean and summery and delicate. The fireflies are magical. There really are few things I love more than night swimming in the creek. I need to do that a lot more often.

Last night Emily and I lay in our bunks and talked after turning the lights off--she is so sweet and always asks me how I'm doing when I fake like I'm fine--and at one point she told me, "Don't worry. You'll find your Jesse."

It was another of those nearly-crying moments. Way to worm your way in and punch the (poorly) hidden button, Em. For reference, Jesse is Victoria's super awesome, perfectly matched, high school sweetheart boyfriend. The only reason they aren't married is that they haven't graduated from college yet. They've picked their wedding colors and kid's names. It's sort of crazy, and anyone can tell you that I'm not a big fan of marrying young, but with them, I trust it. So yes. Emily assures me that I will someday find my Jesse, and I look forward to that, but for now I'm still pasting my tattered heart back together. Construction is, I suppose, progressing roughly on schedule. I really miss David's family though, sometimes. I saw a picture of his nephew today on his sister-in-law's blog, and I just want to hug that little boy so badly.

I talked to my dad tonight about Chris Duncan, and how Nick and I have been talking about him a little. I don't really know what to say I guess, except that I wish I could do more for Nick, and for Chris's mom Rhonda, than just ask how things are and talk about memories and how many ass-kickings Chris is going to get once we all die and join him up there in the clouds. That's really how the conversations go, so far. Today Beth (the boss) had us write promises to God, things we might be able to hold each other accountable to this summer, and share them if we were willing at the worship service we held this morning before heading home. Nick's was to be more honest about how hard it is for him to be without Chris, and when we prayed for everyone up there, he cried. I cried too. I couldn't even say anything--I just leaned my head against his back and cried. I asked him after the service how he was doing, and he said, "That punk keeps making me cry. It's making me all stuffy." And then we both said at the same time, "He's really racking 'em up"--'them' being, of course, ass kickings, as I stated earlier.
And I don't know, it's just so weird for me, though weird is utterly the wrong word. Chris and I were buddies when he was little, but we hadn't been close in years. Mostly I just remember his little-boy goofy smile, huge ears, huge teeth. Even now I sometimes hope it's all just a horrible dream, even though he's been gone for nine months. Chris was Rhonda's firstborn. Paul and Philip's star big brother. Nick's best friend. I can't even imagine what it's like for him. I can't even bring myself to try to imagine what Rhonda is like now, on the inside. Sometimes I wonder whether there could even be anything left of her, after all this. She's hardly slept since he died. She's only cried maybe a handful of times. She's been stuck in PTSD mode since she found him, and only in the last few weeks has she been able to begin to actually grieve. She'll be at Camp tomorrow or Tuesday.

I'm sorry for all the downers! Things really have not been all bad. It has been so great to get to hang out with Emily, with Ellen and Dan, with Victoria and Jesse, Nick, and with so many new and returning staff. To get to know Shane better. To go camping and actually sleep. To spend whole afternoons organizing, or to facilitate the staff group on The Wall element of the Challenge Course. Let me tell you, it is a whole new experience being senior staff. Suddenly there is no one around, with the exceptions of the cooking staff, who has been at Alkulana longer than I have. Suddenly I am the expert. People have honestly told me that I "seem wise," and that there is "no un-knowledgeable bone" in my body. In the cave, Steven kept saying that I had "crazy leg muscles" whenever I lead them through a section where we had to crouch down and maneuver. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's awesome to be complimented and (usually) appreciated. It is just really, really strange to walk into Camp this summer and suddenly be the wise one.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry to hear about your friend's death. It's so good to be able to talk about it with people -- his friends, your friends, family. Keep on keeping wise, my dear, even if it doesn't feel quite natural yet. :)

    Oh, and enjoy the nightswimming! There's a reason Michael Stipe wrote a song about it, it's such a magical thing. I grew up on a lake in the suburbs just north of New York City and in high school one of our favorite pasttimes was to sneak down to the lake late at night for skinny dipping. The water just seems so much more like velvet that way.