My dear Mother and Father, who loved me enough to let me go,
Summer camp is not the walk in the park I believed it might be, and maybe that’s okay. The friends I thought I had turned out to be enemies in disguise, like Martha from girls’ bunk 6, who laughed along when the older girls mocked my dance sandals. I did not let them see me cry, because that is not the girl I know that I am. But the truth is I did cry, later. And maybe that’s okay. I will let go of Martha’s toxic friendship, because I am frighteningly wild and I dance beautifully in my dance sandals. Martha’s mockery does not define me.
Last night at the all-camp bonfire, I got smoke in my face and I coughed until I threw up and I had to be taken back to the bunk before the night was over and my counselor, Allison, was very good to me. She told me that everything was going to be okay, but I knew it wouldn’t, and that’s okay. I am learning to embrace my vulnerability. The truth is that there will be camp counselors who come into your life to teach you something, and just as fast, they will leave. For instance Allison, who is not even a counselor really, but a counselor-in-training, went back to the bonfire after I fell asleep. I know this because I awoke sometime later and saw her making out with a boy counselor outside our bunk. I actually saw her nipple for a second. Allison is wild and independent. She will become a true counselor one day because she is strong, and fiercely vulnerable, and vulnerably beautiful.
I have found a true friend in Petey, a boy who knows my true soul. He is frighteningly beautiful, and wild, and I care deeply for him. Together, we will see the world, starting with camp. Starting with the name games and trust falls and other land-based ropes course activities, for I am afraid of the toxic zipline. He will be the one who inspires my beautiful heart and one day he will be just a memory. Truthfully, I will break his heart because I am frighteningly fierce and some girls are not meant to be tied down. Plus, I am a Sagittarius, and he will one day come to feel envious of my creative, wild heart.
The truth is that I am homesick, and maybe that’s okay. I miss you both. I miss our home. I miss the way the light came in through the upstairs bathroom window and streamed across the hall on late summer mornings. I miss playing in the yard all day and going poop behind the hydrangeas because I was having too much fun to come inside. I miss the family dog. I miss the dusty basement couch. I miss the way it felt when you brushed my hair into a ponytail, even though you always brushed too hard. Do you remember when you were brushing my hair and I accidentally said the fuck word because it hurt my head? I wish I could tell you now just how sorry I am. I miss my old teacher, Mr. Norman. I miss my school. I miss my Nintendo 3DS. I miss orange juice with pulp. I miss my grandmother. Has she mentioned me at all? I miss the toothpaste in the upstairs bathroom. I ate a little bit of it last week.
You will come to pick me up in eleven days, and I will not be the girl you dropped off here on Monday. You will see a fierce bravery in me, and it will frighten you. You will hear from Allison how dutiful and quiet I am during morning announcements, and how I made all the other girls laugh on the first night of camp when I accidentally put my legs in the sleeves of my sweatshirt, and you will not believe that I am the same girl you dropped off. The truth is, I am not the same girl. And maybe that’s okay.