Sometimes History Bears Repeating

I drove back from the camp reunion yesterday.  That sounds so silly – a camp reunion.  The last time I had been there was oh, 38 years ago plus or minus.  I’ll cut to the end in case you need to know the ending first – I had a far, far better time than my anxieties suggested I would.

The hills seemed steeper, the bunk beds lower.  The stage I sang on – waaaay smaller.  I was recognized and remembered by people who I was sure considered me totally inconsequential.  I had the chance to see women-who-were-once-girls – my girls, and I hugged them with almost the same proprietary sense of love that I felt for them when they thought I was tall (at a whopping 4’11”) and they were indeed quite small.  I was astounded by some people who spoke of the difference I made while I was there – for such comments came from people who I was sure barely knew I existed.

In some ways so much was the same, and in other ways history was rewritten with a gentle hand.  The delicate balance between the teen-aged me and the adult me remained carefully calibrated to prevent any old hurts from reappearing.  And yet, I discovered that such protection wasn’t necessary, for that which I remembered had been softened and altered by others’ oral histories.   Time has been generous with people’s memories of me and permits me to think far more kindly of those summers when I was sure that I had one foot perpetually outside the ‘cool’ circle.  I did – and now it is okay – then, it was torture.

The girls?  The girls are still all incredible.  A writer (who along with her partner suffered my ambivalence with such kindness – and a little wine –  over the weekend), a talent agent and producer, moms, doctors, teachers,  non-profit volunteers.  Most happily married, some perhaps not; some  struggling with health challenges, others with tales of survival.  We spoke of our own kids, ranging in age from pre-teen to adult.  The guys?  Warm, funny, far more expansive as grown ups (and I’m not talking waist size) – and they’ve learned how to hug with heart.

It’s a funny kind of withdrawal one has when driving away with adolescence so clearly visible in the rear view mirror.  I cried as I waved goodbye, confident that with my high level of immaturity, I would see that girl again soon.  But the others who crowded my heart as I left?  Who knows what surprises life holds?  It is true though – they have never left my heart.

 

37 thoughts on “Sometimes History Bears Repeating

  1. Oh Mim…what a lovely post of a lovely event. You sound like a proud Mom and Sister…I’m happy for you. They were lucky to have you then, and even more so to have and know you now!
    R.

      • 🙂 I hope you truly know…just how special you are. And let yourself know how much you are appreciated. I feel I’ve known you a whole heck of a lot more than I have and I also know that should we have ever met in person…we would be bosoms! (lol i almost put bosooms!)

      • We are cyber-bosom buddies and I too feel like we’ve known each other a long time..how lucky are we??? I have a hard time thinking of myself as special – rather a very blessed person who has had the incredible chance to know wonderful people with amazing capacities for love. And that makes me feel very special..

  2. It sounds like you were always a rock star, and it was just your own insecurities that didn’t allow you to see that.

  3. Welcome home, Mimi! I’ve missed you! 🙂 So glad that you enjoyed your weekend, though I’m not surprised. Given your generosity of spirit and the difference your posts make in *my* day (and we haven’t even had the pleasure of meeting in person), I just knew that you were going to be welcomed with open arms and pleasantly surprised by how many remembered you both well and warmly. So lovely to see good things happen for good people. 🙂

    • Hi Lori – I’ve missed you too! I have been so spoiled by your visits over these past short months, and it felt weird not to be writing over the weekend. Given our shared affections for so many different things it feels like we’ve already met. One of these days…:-)

  4. Mimi- Loved your piece….I rarely reply to blogs…but your post resonnated with me. You see….while many of us former CT campers are joined via FBook…and the updates are great and interesting….and reminiscing is fun…..yet, no one really talks about the painful and awkward moments we experienced at camp…and your post made me realize I am not alone in admitting certain camp memories still conjure up emotional pangs or stings…even though I am “all grown up.” I’m glad the CT reunion was a positive experience for you….I wish i could have been there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts….PS I attended CT from 1977-1983.
    Stacey (Steinglass) Kaye

    • Hi Stacey! I wasn’t at CT when you were – my last year was 1974. I am glad you know of what I speak, and that it resonated with you. I had tremendous ambivalence about going, for there were a lot of stings. Undoubtedly some of them were just a function of growing up and the associated angst of being first a young teen-ager and then an old one. I was unsure about going up until the moment I got in the car. But I’m glad I went, and as I wrote was surprised at the warmth of my reception and the number of people who remembered me (some of whom I had forgotten). I wish you had come – and I wish you and I had found each other so I could have given you a hug and told you that you weren’t alone.

  5. Beautiful and touching-thank you for coming and helping rekindle all that was good from those days…hugs and more hugs….

    • I was glad I didn’t listen to my ‘best-to-let-sleeping-dogs-lie’ voice. It was so good to see you – I was looking forward to seeing you more than you know. Hugs right back at you – always.

  6. Loved your blog today-for obvious reasons! I am so proud and glad to be still called one of your girls and I am sure my fellow bunkmates feel the same way. And we always thought you were one of the cool ones! So good seeing you-I am so glad you decided to come. Hope to see you soon.
    xoxo
    amy

    • My Amy – good thing I didn’t ask to comb your hair, huh? 🙂 It was so good to see you, and yes, you are still one of ‘my girls’ – with that fantastic smile of yours and enthusiasm to match! I really hope 38 years don’t have to pass before we see each other again…xoxo

  7. WOW Mimi, I’m sitting at my desk far away in California crying. I couldn’t have said any of this so well myself but I had all the same conflicting emotions as Hope and I drove in to camp and started walking up the hill. I couldn’t figure out all the swirling emotions but this gives me a window in to them. I LOVED seeing you and felt the same warmth I always remembered from you. You are a dynamic, smart and, clearly, loving person as witnessed by how close you and your boys remain, among many other things! You also appear to have infinite wisdom about life, love, parenting and growing up! I’m not a blog reader but I’ll read yours any day I find myself with a few minutes to spare. Hope we get to reconnect again! xo Lenore

    • I will jump at any chance to see you again kiddo – you are as beautiful an adult as you were as a child. Funny how we all had a bit of anxiety at the thought of returning to the site of so many memories – both good and not-so-good – and how reluctant we are to talk about the latter. Be well dear one and please stay in touch – you rock! xo

  8. Mimi – wow. I remember you as someone who made me smile at a place where I often felt well pretty horrid. CT had a tough crew, especially for this lone NJ resident of my group. You always did this thing which cracked me up moving our hand up and down your face from a smile to a frown. Wonderful piece and I see from other responses although it seemed that way not everyone remembers it all with fondness.

    • I remember you so well Stacy and wish I had had the chance to see you..I do understand why you chose not to return. I will tell you that we take good care of ourselves when we face that child of ours. It certainly evoked many mixed feelings, but I am so glad I went. I know you didn’t have a great time, and I know of some of the challenges you had. If I had seen you I would have hugged you and made that goofy hand gesture and remind you that you are fantastic.

  9. Mimi – I was at camp when your where there with my sister Lisa as well. I remember you as one of the people there who was kind and made me smile. I think CT was a very tough place in many ways, especially for this lone girl from NJ, the only one on my group. You always did this thing I remember moving your hand up and down your face from a smile to a frown, made me laugh. Your piece is great. I see from your piece and some responses not everyone was having a wonderful time. I never considered going back, I do not have good feelings about my time there, but your piece put a different light on that.

  10. nice post! I did remember you, though you were not a counselor of mine…
    It was nice to see familiar faces even if I was someone out of the inner circle.

    • Margie – I wasn’t part of the inner circle either. I wish we all had had a chance to talk about what made us feel so lonely in the middle of all this camp stuff. For amidst the fun there clearly was a lot of sadness too..

    • Hey Laura – you were the leader of the pack honey. Blessed with unfailing loyalty, athletic prowess none could match and a smile that could light up the bleakest of days. And who inspired awe?? 🙂

  11. Walk tall Mimi. You’re an inspiration – honesty and vulnerability on two feet – so you’ll always have friends who think the world of you – and delight in being a friend for the world. Welcome home.

    • Ah Simon, you brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for being so embracing and generous and altogether wonderful. I delight in being your friend and am so grateful you are mine. It’s good to be home.

      • Yes! Always, always good to be home. I think that’s why we go on vacations / camps. “Oh, wow, it’s great to be home. I’m going to sleep like a log tonight … ”

        On friendship and gratitude: Me too. Thank YOU 🙂 x

      • Lol – you’re probably right – a side benefit of vacation is coming home to one’s own bed.
        As for friendship – I suppose you will just have to accept that I’m part of the Simon Marsh fan club..happily so. Have a good night!

  12. I just have to go to humor for a minute….reading all these comments and wondering, “so who did feel socially accepted at camp?”. Perhaps nobody?

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