The summer I was nineteen years old, I worked at a Boy Scout camp in Arizona. In the wake of that summer, in trying to reconcile what happened to me, I wrote these blog entries in September 2006. They are melodramatic and at times pathetic, but this is where my love story begins.
If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to
'Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to.
-AnnaNalick, “Breathe (2 AM)”
I debated not posting this, but thought maybe if I got it out there I could stop thinking about it. Or maybe this will just make everything worse.
I haven't really talked too much about my summer. Most of you asked how working at Camp Lawton was and I gave the obligatory “it was awesome. The best summer ever,” and that was it. I gave no specific reasons why because what happened to me is really hard to explain. The whole experience was a “you had to have been there” type of thing but taken one step further: “you had to have been there and you had to have been me.”
After such an amazing experience, you would think I'd have written about it nonstop for weeks, but I didn't.
Lawton left a lot of loose ends and I was waiting for some of them to tie up before I started sharing what happened. But as one string tightened, two more came loose. Now, I'm completely undone and I can't bring myself back. Lawton tore my soul open, in the best and worse sense. I saw who I could be and who I truly am and I loved that person. I saw what life can and should be like, but can't and never will be like again. I climbed a mountain, slept under the stars, fell in love, broke a million rules, looked off the edge of a cliff and saved my life while destroying it. It was a summer where all my greatest fears – mental, spiritual, physical, emotional-- were all met and conquered. I found serenity and later fell from grace. Lawton left me knowing who I am but sent me back to a world I didn't know.
There were moments at Camp when all I could feel was complete joy. It was unfair how happy I was all the time. It was like Heaven – everyone just sitting around, playing cards, listening to Jack Johnson, happy to be where they were and who they were because of the people they were sharing that moment with. Lawton is not just a place, it's people. You live, work, sleep, eat and play with those people. They seep into your heart and soul. Soon you can't imagine your life before you met them or what it will be like after you leave them. Then the summer ends and you don't talk again. It's like what happens at Lawton and who you are at Lawton stays at Lawton.
My summer was all about one boy. He's the reason I write this.
I'll show you mine if you show me yours first.
Let's compare scars, I'll tell you whose is worse.
Rise Against, “Swing Life Away”
You can't take the fantasy home. I knew this, but I tried anyway.
Lawton brings out the best and worse in everyone, but most of the time it's your best self. You are taken out of context. Everyone wears the same ugly uniform and you are already a little bit of a loser because you're a Boy Scout. You are no longer the band geek, soccer hot shot or college drop out. You are a Staff member. 26 year-olds talk to 16 year-olds and it doesn't matter. The awkward girl on staff gets the boy who would never have looked twice had they been in context. There is beauty in Lawton's blindness, but there is also deceit.
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