This is our last day at camp, and I’m afraid that Ava will be in tears when it’s time to go. She has looked forward to this all year, and loved every moment of it. I remember being deeply sad when I left this place as a kid, but now I approach it much differently as an adult. I don’t have the same energy as kids do (writing that sentence is laughable in itself, because my energy level isn’t even in the same hemisphere when making the comparison). As a kid, I could be filthy and wear grungy clothes without batting an eye, but as an adult, I value a nice shower and clean laundry much higher on my scale of priorities.
It’s interesting to be in this place where I started as an eleven year old child. I look around at all of the kids and young adults here, and I think of myself at each of those ages and stages. I thought I might feel nostalgic for the times gone by, but I’m actually a bit astonished that I was ever eager to doll myself up and be seen at the tuck shop at eleven o’clock at night, or hang around the back of the service hoping to catch the eye of a certain boy. It was all important in its own way, but I literally cannot even imagine going backwards to be that person now. I love that it is my nieces and nephew’s turn, and will one day be my kids who are dressing up and hanging out in large groups on the grassy areas of this camp.
We all experience endings and new beginnings on a regular basis. As one experience draws to a close, another one is waiting to take its place, and that is how life is engineered. I didn’t pay any attention to the families with small kids when I was an adolescent, and now that I am in that stage, I look at the young people and marvel at how they spend their time. My novel and my card games are much more enticing to me now, as is going to bed at a reasonable hour. I wouldn’t want to go back, but I’m glad I experienced all of it when I was meant to do it, and want the same kind of memories built for my kids.
It’s been a very good week, with fantastic weather for a change, and I’ve made a real effort to enjoy it on my own terms. Watching Ava grow and flourish in front of my eyes has been a joy and a wonder, and worth any personal price I may have had to pay. Hopefully William will reach that place of appreciation and love for this camp, and until he does, Ava’s enthusiasm will be enough to sustain all of us.
She has reminded me of my childhood self this week, and it’s been fun to reconnect with the part of me that deeply loved and adored this place, and never, ever wanted to leave. When her tears come, as they inevitably will, I pray that my compassion is rooted firmly in place, because I’ll know exactly how she feels, and will assure her that she can begin to anticipate next year as soon as this camp draws to a close.