...and so, the story continues...
2. Dreams and Stardust
A year or two quickly passed. Jane moved away but somehow that didn’t much matter.
Then one summer day I went with my family to a Public Camping Resort on the shore of a distant lake. The campground was full too overflowing, but there was no one there that I knew, so I spent most of the morning people watching. And people are funny you know.
I still remember how silly it seemed to me that one campsite was so engaged in arranging a privacy nest that they busied themselves like ants fortifying and closing off their firepit and table area. Too busy doing that to scruff their bare feet in the sand, or to breath in campfire smells or moist air off the water. Obviously they were not there to soak up the scent of pine or the open view of nature.
You probably know the one’s I mean. The one’s that string up tarps and build faux-blinds clothespinned and clipped together in order to gain seclusion and privacy from the view of others. Holiday trailers and tents are good but still more privacy is needed. I laughed as I sat in our ‘own yard’ and observed how all eyes at every other site were glued on that campsite. And how those few trailing down to the lake and back slowed and looked so intently.
All of us, including me, waiting for the auspicious moment when a breeze would separate those carefully arranged canvas flaps to reveal what was so necessary to hide. Whatever it was, it must be more intriguing than what the Queen carries in that purse she always brings to even the most intimate of occasions in her smallest ‘sitting room’ and tucks, and strokes, and pets, and positions it beside her, with greater care and affection than she gives her corgi dogs.
Guess I’m not like that or maybe I wouldn’t be telling you this story. The parallel here being that I’m letting you see in my purse (but don’t be taking my crown polish), and I’m not worrying about the crack in the faux blinds.
Campgrounds give the appearance of being a fellowship but they are really not. And although only a very few are excessively intent on privacy, the rest of us seek it as well. We want the invisible walls of our area to safely keep out the neighbors, and we want the neighbors to mind their own business in tactful ways. On this particular day, the water was too cold for swimming, too slimy as well, the fish were not biting, and so as the day began to drag on, there seemed little amusement to be had. Most of us just huddled in our separate groups as if tethered to tables and firepits. Too many of us gazing about, tapping fingers on tables, or poking fires with a stick, and wondering what to do next.
But then, down the trail came a youth dragging a sack of ball-playing equipment toward a seldom-used ball diamond, heavy with long grass. And people followed him as if he was a Pied Piper proceeding through a small town. I love playing ball and fell into line with the others.
We gathered at the diamond, and in that group of strangers made self-introductions without awkwardness. There was urgency in forming an easy community so the game could get started. Introductions were made more swiftly and efficiently then if they had been planned and scheduled.
One of the young fellows who introduced himself was very tall with the bluest eyes I had every seen. His blond hair framed his forehead like a silvery-gold crown. His jeans were old, tattered, grease and oil stained. And so was his shirt. But how could anyone notice with his ready laugh. His twinkling blue eyes, his glad nature, and his broad permanent smile.
His name was Gary.
And so the game began. We had such great fun. We played ball until twilight. Until there was no chance of being able to catch or hit the ball without night vision. And then, when we finally wrapped it up, Gary offered to drive me home and I said “yes”.
After that day, Gary and I were best friends. ‘A number’, is what they called it. And for the rest of that summer I laughed more than I have every laughed and smiled more than I have ever smiled.
This is how life is supposed to be in the midst of all the exuberance of youth. Dreams and stardust. And that’s what it was. I hoped the fun would never end. But it was temporary, and before I tell you more, I need to tell you more about Gary.
NEXT POST: Hiding the Pain