• P1310028

  • summer 2

  • L

    She’d Found It All

    06.29.2016 / LIFE

    As a kid, I faithfully attended summer camp year after year. My friends and I’d pile into a 10 passenger van with a reluctant youth leader behind the wheel, all of us belting songs in a decidedly off-key loop: Alice the Camel, Do Your Ears Hang Low. We’d pass Pringles from the back to the front, look for Alaska license plates with our noses pressed to the windows. We’d practice French braids on each other for three hours of highway stretch until our van would veer left into the trees, up the gravel path, past the old wooden sign with the faded sun. We’d arrived.

    I was giddy to be there, giddy to be alone and independent without parents, without expectations. That first summer, my bunkmates and I rose early daily, before the sun, with flashlights and nets and bug spray, each of us on the hunt for frogs. At night we’d fall onto our pillows with marshmallows still stuck in our hair.

    I thought it would always be this way.

    The next summer: No more Alice the Camel, no more Do Your Ears Hang Low.
    The next summer: We’d traded Pringles for Dr. Pepper lip balm.

    Eventually, we stopped frog hunting entirely.

    Instead, we rose early to line up in the bathhouse, before the sun, Caboodles in hand, to be the first to reserve an outlet for our flatiron.

    I wondered if this was what becoming our mothers looked like? Is this aging? Waking earlier and earlier for things that do not bring us joy, but attention? Accolades?

    Is this what it means to grow up?

    We keep our dentist appointments, keep our secrets, keep our 401Ks, keep our distance, keep our oil changed, keep our standards high, keep our bed made.

    We give away the frogs.

    Sometimes, on our ride home from camp, we’d play MASH on looseleaf notebook paper, etching in graphite the names of boys we’d liked most in that short summer.

    One of my bunkmates’ MASH game was fulfilled, years later. Met Micah at summer camp. Married. Lives in a mansion. Two kids, boy and girl. Drives a black SUV. Lawyer. Dog. Goldfish.

    A dream come true. She has it all.

    She forgets sometimes, like me.

    She forgets that this was precisely our wish: to dream, to grow, to self-actualize into a two-car garage.

    She peeks around the corner for what’s next, what’s to come – when will I have it all? – and she forgets that she’s already found what she’s looking for.

    The frogs, remember?

    We’d already found them in the back creeks of summer, hidden beneath the ripe blackberry bushes, illuminated by the firefly dance we’d witness nightly. They were there, all along, next to the old wooden sign with the faded sun.

    The magic, the innocence, the wonder, the joy.

    We traded it all for outlets.

    Bee stumbles upon toads often. She spots them everywhere – at the zoo, at grandma’s house, once at Menard’s. A few weeks ago, while vacationing miles away on the east coast, one hopped right onto her sandy foot.

    It’s my toad! she shrieks. He’s followed me here, all this way!

    A dream come true.

    The magic, the innocence, the wonder, the joy.

    She’d found it all.

    So too, shall we.

    (Again.)

    • Yes. I love this. I think we spend so much time looking for that promised land around the corner and on the horizon that we can totally miss the fact that in many ways it’s already here. That’s such a cliche but it’s also, at least in my life, a deep truth. xox

      • The promised land around the corner; AMEN! I do this often. And you’re right – in many ways, it’s already here. :)

    • Michelle Taylor

      Lovely as always

    • Goosebumps. Literal goosebumps from the beautiful way you capture life. Thank you thank you.

    • Anonymous

      I knew coming here was a good idea.
      It always is.
      This is such a beautiful topic. Since becoming a mother, there are rare times I’ve been able to stop and realize, this is it. This is what that future I dreamt of feels like and it’s pretty good. Harder and fiercer than what I’d imagined but better all the same.
      It’s hard to keep that perspective constant. It just comes and goes.

      Thanks for being the best Erin.
      Marisa <3

    • I knew coming here was a good idea.
      It always is.
      This is such a beautiful topic. Since becoming a mother, there are rare times I’ve been able to stop and realize, this is it. This is what that future I dreamt of feels like and it’s pretty good. Harder and fiercer than what I’d imagined but better all the same.
      It’s hard to keep that perspective constant. It just comes and goes.

      Thanks for being the best Erin.
      Marisa <3

    • A beautiful reminder. Thank you!

    • Hi Erin! I’ve been a secret admirer of yours for a while now. Your writing is gorgeous and always feels so relatable. At my summer camp it was the “snipe hunt.” The older girls would trick the younger ones into going out late at night with pillow cases to hunt “snipes” (snipes don’t exist). Thanks for sharing this, I always look forward to your posts!

      • Oh Rebbie, you’re so kind – thank you for your sweet words! (Snipes! I love this!)

    • I have to remind myself daily that “it all” is already inside me, and that the more I look around outside for it, the further away it will fly. Some days I remember all day long, others I remind all day long. I’m okay with that. xoxo

    • Nicole

      So true!
      And well-written. Thank you!

    • Louise

      I’m reading this as a break from studying at the local library that I grew up in, this beautiful post speaks so much to my current situation, thank you for sharing!! I’m definitely envying the kids that have been hunting for summer books in the nearby shelves…

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