(I entered a writing contest this summer, it was for short stories and had to be about a summer experience – needless to say I did not win, so I decided to try an experiment with what I wrote. Below you can read the story or you can listen to my edited and recorded version of it or you can do both at the same time! Enjoy.)
My first true summer camp experience was spent trying to avoid the girl I had a crush on.
I was 15 years old, always the quiet type, the sort of person who even if I did have a crush on you would never get close enough to you to make anything happen. This is how I went 15 years into my life without a girlfriend or any sort of cross-sexual crush reciprocation.
Having a girlfriend never seemed worth all the work. Why would you want that when there are things like sports and movies?
These were my main muses and until that fifteenth year they remained so, perpetuating my disinterest in consummating a crush.
This happened to line-up with the first time I would ever attend a summer camp. Now this was not the long-term home away from home that parents sent their kids away to as depicted in The Parent Trap or parodied in Wet Hot American Summer. This was a one week affair put on by the church, centered around a lake with all sorts of fun elements essential to a place like this – hiking, the blob, a general store carrying cheap energy drinks and sugary snacks. As the camp approached, I looked forward to hanging out, playing games, and relishing in camp life – a depiction of all things summer.
But of course you get older and things change. As the end of the school year was approaching with the sun bringing an apathy for schoolwork and the desire to escape long days at wooden desks began to overtake us, my relationship with a girl began to prosper.
Is it the summer’s fault that these things begin like they do? The vibes that encompass your soul for three months of fresh air and freedom from the tyranny known as education are apparently also quite capable of wrapping young hearts up in affection. Only the Newton-John and Travolta duet in Grease could ever prepare a youngster for summer love, but even this is lacking.
Our relationship blossomed as casual conversation turned into platonic purposes for acquiring her number, leading to texting and late night phone calls. They don’t equip you for how fast it goes, they really don’t.
This crush continued into summer camp, I was ready for the magical experience I had heard so much about, figuring it would be like The Goonies or The Sandlot – only real life! It was the dream of contained freedom, where pranks ruled, and you spent most of the day chilling with your friends, doing whatever you wanted.
And this is where I was stuck.
There was the thrill of making memories with my best friends – exploring the river, playing frisbee golf, riding scooters in our made-up scooter gang, but I found myself only hanging out with one person – the girl.
We walked around, chatting about random things, and waiting for one another before getting lunch, until I realized…
I didn’t actually want to be doing this.
I suppose 15 is an age centered between adolescence and reality. I longed both for silly times with friends and the butterflies of interacting with someone who felt special.
Could I have gotten both, taking the middle in a sort of venn-diagram of relational maturity?
It’s hard to say, but I certainly wasn’t ready for the web of interpersonal insecurities that is the dating world – instead I chose the companionship that comes in boyishness, avoiding the girl I had once been so fond to spend time with. I was content to stay a boy.
Well until the next crush came along.