I want to freeze in this moment. The moments before it have been hard, and the moments coming next are going to be even harder, but in this moment, everything is miraculously easy.
The first thing that I can hear is waves. They certainly are not the loudest thing here, but if there are waves to be heard, then they are always the first things that I hear. These are not the loud crashing waves of the ocean and home, but the soft heartbeat waves of the wonderful Winnipesaukee. Someone is sitting on the edge, and moving their foot just slightly sets off a splash, messing the pattern of the waves for just a second, before they return to their steady beat.
Just a bit louder, a young woman is reading something she wrote. She’s someone I have known for most of my life without ever actually knowing her at all. I didn’t even know she wrote. She writes beautifully. I’m not usually jealous of writers, I have my style, and they have theirs, but I really wish I could make words flow like she does, casually, but beautifully. She’s a poet, but there isn’t a hint of poet voice or self-importance on her, not like the poets I’ve come to expect from school. I like her piece so much, that I’m not even annoyed when people use the snapping-for-applause as she finishes.
In front of me, there is a fire, and like usual when I am placed near a campfire, I cannot look at anything else. I am very much aware of the people around me, talking to me, asking me about school, how I think my week is going, all those usual filler questions as we wait for our poet to find the next piece that she is going to read. I answer them all with a smile, but I don’t take my eyes away from the flames, wincing just slightly when it pops, or a log breaks and crumbles down into the fire some more. A friend throws an arm around my shoulders just for the contact of it. Someone else kisses the crown of my head as they go around the circle saying goodnight before heading to bed.
Time moves so strangely here. An hour ago, I was playing with some kids and watching a boy older than me set fire to ping-pong balls filled with sparkler dust. An hour before that, I was sobbing in the middle of the Meeting House, admitting things I swore I would never admit, and hearing things that I never expected to actually be able to hear being said about me. When I was on this campus, I consistently felt younger and older than I actually was often at the same time; I very rarely felt my own age.
I’d spent some time at this lake every summer for my entire life, and I mean that literally. I was two months and six days old the first time I was brought to this camp. My mother had been coming for years before that, and her parents for even longer. Someday, I hope to bring my child to this camp, and maybe they’ll sit around a fire, fascinated to learn new things about someone they’ve known their whole lives, and marveling in how miraculously easy one moment can be.