Gym! Picnic! Memories!

Today’s Happy Note: Doing what I wanna do.  Sundays/holidays are the best for that.

Doing what I want started with a visit to the gym!  First time in over a week.  I ran a mile around the neighborhood then lifted weights (lighter than usual) for thirty minutes and spent thirty steady minutes on the elliptical.  The run was hard. Not hard like “oh, I should slow down a bit,” but hard like “I need to lie down for thirty minutes after every block” hard.  I eventually made it to the gym and had to sit down in the weight room.  Felt like a total loser.

The rest of the day was spent napping, watching various TV marathons, studying for the LSAT, talking with my mommy, cleaning, and then having a little picnic/fireworks adventure.

I had a nice outing with friends last night and would have liked to see them today but it was hard to coordinate schedules/locations.  So I ended up with a picnic for one!  Fine by me.  I would rather be by myself and make the most of it — get out of the house, do activities, meet new people — than sulk around and cry and feel sad about being alone.

I won’t lie, my picnic Fourth of July dinner was pretty sweet.  The menu:

  1. Sautéed garlic green beans with a maple glaze
  2. Potato salad with….interesting sauce
  3. Lemon grilled chicken
  4. Maple blueberry pie.

All together now:

I didn’t finish all of what’s pictured and made extra, so it looks like I’ll be eating nicely for a few days!  I am integrating real foods back into my diet slowly.  I didn’t have any other veggies today.  I feel much stronger and healthier but the last of the infection is still lingering around.  I am still being careful about fluids and am pounding the antibiotics (prescribed, of course).

After dinner I studied.  And studied some more.  Who knew logic games could be so damn complicated?  Alex is going to a party with his 25 best friends, known as each letter of the alphabet, B-Z.  Each person will arrive at a different time bearing a different food wearing a different color shirt.  Once they’re at the party they will be grouped into seven groups of different sizes.  We know that F arrived last and Z is wearing a purple shirt and will be in a group of three.  When did each person arrive?  What are they wearing?  What dish did they bring?  And what group are they in?

Seriously.  I’m not exaggerating.  Good thing the fireworks started after a few hours.  It was nice to see something exploding that wasn’t my brain.

I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to take a good picture of fireworks.  Meh.

I like the Fourth of July as a celebration of summer and friends and good food.  I guess the founding of our country is cool too.  I have the best memories of Fourth of July…

Storytime: Camp

From when I was 9 until 16 I attended a camp called AGQ every summer, for varying lengths of time (a week, two weeks, a month).  It was my favorite place in the world.  I grew up there.  It’s located in the most beautiful part of Michigan on a huge inland lake, with plenty of woods, pastures, cabins, camp sites, and everything else a kid could want in a summer camp.  I learned how to water ski.  How to play.  How to talk about myself and then write about myself.  How to be me.  Camp changed my life, not in a silly way, but in a very serious way.

There are a few specific memories about Camp that bring me instantaneous joy (and deep sadness as well). There was one tree; a very special tree.  An oak with the biggest green, sunny branches, draping out in all directions.  It seemed to me like that tree touched the sky.  And it had loving roots; the kind that your back just wants to soften into.  I made some of my dearest friends under that tree.  The ground in the circle around it was just sacred.  It accepted every child who entered i’s domain, unconditionally.

I think I learned how to consciously love at camp.  I hardly know how to explain this, but there is a point when a young person becomes fully and totally human through love: you fall so deeply in love with another being (not necessarily romantically) that you lose yourself.  there is something magical about love, about loving, and about camp.  You learn life stories, traumas, dreams, joys.  There is not a day that I don’t miss the extraordinary community of Camp.

One of the best things was always Fourth of July.  We would have “cookout” dinners with classic summer food (burgers, coleslaw, pasta salad, watermelon,etc.) and then the whole camp would lie out on blankets beside the lake and watch fireworks go off from the dock.  Perhaps I am romanticizing things, but there is not much a child should have to do in summer besides lie in the grass giggling with new friends and dream about s’mores.

My last few years at camp I participated in various leadership and counselor-in-training programs.  From the day I first set foot on Camp — drove through the woods and scrambled down the dirt road and the long hill and found my way to my cabin — I wanted to be a part of camp forever.  Unfortunately, we are not children forever.  But once I aged out, I wanted to be a counselor.  I wanted it more than I wanted anything else: more than I wanted to go to any particular college, more than I wanted to be good at swimming or running or writing, more than I wanted to work for the UN one day.  It was (and in a sense is) my biggest dream.  And it did not materialize.  I was not selected as a counselor.  In this rejection, I experienced my first heartbreak.  I had been deeply in love with this place for eight years — practically half my childhood, up to that point.

To this day I know that I would have been a phenomenal counselor.  I would have loved those children and showed them that they were valuable and unique and perfect the way they were.  I would have shown them how to love Camp, how to experience its magic, where to dive into the woods for a shortcut.   I do not say any of this out of arrogance or regret.  It’s just something I absolutely know — like I know that I will be a mother one day.  When you love a place that much and it changes your life that much, it is the most natural, perfect thing to, at a certain age, want to help transfer that love to others.

I go back and visit sometimes.  I haven’t been in two summers and I hope that I will have a chance this year.  I am forever thankful for Camp: for showing me how to accept and give love, how to write, how to fall in love with a place, how to express my needs and desires.  If it weren’t for camp, I would not have started writing my poems or switched to a new high school that changed my life.  I am not sure I would have ended up in New York.

If I had to choose a memory to die with tomorrow, it would be Camp.  Sitting in a circle under The Tree with new girlfriends, listening to poems and feeling the lake breeze waft through the hear.

What’s your “place”?  Where did you grow up — actually or metaphorically?  Have you ever loved something so much and then had to part with it?


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    Jul 05, 2010 @ 00:55:43

    Just wanted to pop in and say hi and hope you had a nice weekend….sounds like you did 🙂



  2. Sarah
    Jul 05, 2010 @ 01:27:08

    Your writing about the camp drew me in…made me wish I could go there…I’m so glad you have such lovely memories of it. Also great to hear that you are getting better, food wise and exercise wise…you’ll soon be fit as a fiddle again I’m certain 🙂

    In response to your comment on my art blog – I would indeed be interested in a writing swap…I could send you a business card with it 😉 hehe I will email you about it…..after I have had a go at trying to solve that intriguing logic game…

    Sarah x


  3. Katherine: What About Summer?
    Jul 05, 2010 @ 06:50:11

    I grew up at summer camp [over twelve summers being there]. I don’t think living in my parent’s house taught me anything but surviving struggle. Memories are amazing and such powerful things. your blog really has a great title to parallel the entry materials; love this post


  4. Trackback: When Is Halloween 9 Going to Be Released » Archive du blog » Gym! Picnic! Memories! Run. Write. Therapy. Life.
  5. Maggie
    Jul 05, 2010 @ 12:15:51

    Love your happy note 🙂 That’s my favorite part about weekends too.

    I have really interested camp memories. I went every summer (not always the same camp though). I really wish I had been a counselor. I know I would have loved it!


  6. Kate
    Jul 05, 2010 @ 20:11:21

    thank you for sharing that story! there are times when working in childcare/camp settings can be very draining. i really hope that i can create those kind of postive memories for at least one child.

    my place? the dance studio in my hometown. i spent so much time there. i BAWLED at the end of my last recital ;(


  7. Joanne
    Jul 06, 2010 @ 07:02:46

    Sounds like a fun 4th! I’m glad to hear you are feeling better…try to not to be too mad at your body or hard on yourself. You will get back to running crazy long distances. It will just take time. (I’m practicing telling myself that for when I get to start running again.)

    Love your camp story! I always wished I could have gone to camp but my mom was super protective and would have hated letting me leave for an entire summer. She didn’t even want me to leave to go to college!

    Yes we need to plan a date! Maybe a…Momofuku date?!?!? OR there are a few other places downtown I’ve wanted to go…this place called the Meatball Shop. Supposed to be awesome. Hmmm…so many options.


  8. Christine @ Grub, Sweat and Cheers
    Jul 06, 2010 @ 11:55:34

    I’ve just been catching up on your posts from the last week and good god you’ve been through the wringer! Poor you! I’m so glad to read you can actually eat some real meals again. And work out! I hope your strength returns to it’s awesome fullness soon!

    I love your camp recollections and your point on a young person becoming full & human through love. A wonderful way to put it.

    I remember falling madly for the archery counsellor at camp…his name was Andy. Archery Andy. Sigh. In my 10 yr old eyes he was the most amazing thing ever. I was a scrawny geeky kid and had a horrible limp at the time from breaking my leg – I so clearly recall feeling like I didn’t fit into my own skin and then he was kind to me, taught me…it was just wonderful. Do you think if I googled ‘archery Andy’ I’d find him now? 😉


  9. therabbitrunner
    Jul 06, 2010 @ 12:11:17

    wow those fireworks look spectacular!!
    sorry to hear your infection is still lingering! i hope you feel 100% asap!
    ps. lemon chicken sounds epic.


  10. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine
    Jul 06, 2010 @ 14:58:06

    I’m glad you enjoyed your fourth of July! My “place” is my home in Pennsylvania. My parents started leaving me home alone when I was seven or eight and my brother played competitive hockey, and it’s during that time that I really became independent. I’ve lived in this house my whole life, and there are so many memories here!

    Hope your week is off to a great start love!


  11. shesarunner
    Jul 06, 2010 @ 18:42:09

    Hi lovely, so happy to here that you are getting back into the swing of things. I know you said you felt like a “total loser”, but try not to judge yourself so harshly. You are bouncing back from an illness. You deserve some credit. I’m experiencing the same thing…trying to build my strength back up again. It is hard and I also feel badly about myself…I was at the gym today and I felt very weak and pathetic compared to how I used to be (or compared to anything really), but those negative thoughts aren’t helpful. I try to push them out of my head…I know it’s hard. But remember you are strong and beautiful and admirable…I really admire you. I especially admire your beautiful piece of writing about camp. I really wish I had had that camp experience but unfortunately I hated camp. I think I just picked the wrong one. There were a lot of snooty girls and I never felt like I belonged in that environment. Reading your beautiful story was touching, and I’m so happy that you had that growth experience.


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