24 July 2011

Sacred Spaces

Driving home from the city a little bit after midnight last night, the moon was low in the sky and looked almost as if you could reach out and touch it. Had Emmaline been with me she would have asked to do just that, as the moon is a great favorite of hers. But her big city adventure had been taken with her father while I worked in the ER across town.

So I was alone as I drove and had the music turned up to help keep me awake. The only CD in the car was my old copy of the Indigo Girls Nomads Indians Saints, rescued from a box after the epic summer move of 2010. When I listened to it then, a decade had probably gone by since I last heard any of the songs, but I still knew each and every word.

It happens that way with things that you love when you are young. For me, the Indigo Girls are synonymous with a summer camp named Bement, a girl named Meg Williams with whom I am sadly no longer in touch, the smell of mildew emanating from old bunk bed mattresses, snickerdoodles, Bar, Alphabet Soup Night, and so many friends I am still lucky to have.

As a child my family did not move around much, but we did move around some. The house I came home to from the hospital was not the one I went to school from on my first day in Miss Foisy's kindergarten class. Ditto middle school and high school and college, different driveways, different yards. This is not to say I was uprooted. I always felt very safe and very at home. But home meant family and not necessarily the house we were living in. Home meant my stuffed lamb and bunny blanket (and yes, they came to college with me) and not the banister on the staircase you peeked through on Christmas mornings since the banister, over the years, had changed.

Camp was the only place I had that was a constant, the only physical location I continued to feel a connection to over such a wide span of years. One winter I had walked on the pond and found two dollar bills frozen to the surface. It was the first money that was my own. Other summers I fell in love or fell out of love or became a vegetarian to be more like the girl someone else seemed to love and I sailed and I swam and I sat for hours on boat duty and got splashed by campers in canoes and every once in a while I felt, for just one minute, almost like someone who was special just by being me.

When I needed a babysitter for Emmaline and I had no idea how I could let a stranger take care of my brand new baby girl, I posted an add on SitterCity and within an hour ended up hearing from a girl who had been my camper fifteen years before. And somehow it didn't seem extraordinary, it felt inevitable. Because camp is family and family is forever.

Except that camp is not forever. It stands empty and is on the market for anyone looking to build McMansions on the pond where I learned to swim, along the shores I lost my cat Kristopher in a woodpile and found him miraculously alive weeks later, on the spot where we gathered each morning to sing B-Bement Camp and so many others.

They will pave over the White Cross Trail and raze the trees along Mill Stream and the people who buy houses there will put their patio furniture on the Lakeside Sports Field and never know what a toot is or a clanger or a Dessert-O-Meter or how the sign from Bucksteep Manor came to be in the Rec Hall.

They will never know what a special place they are living in. But I hope they will be happy there. I was.

The places we love can be ruined in seconds. But that does not mean we stop loving them. Maybe it means that we love them even more.


  1. I am overwhelmed by pride and how very blessed I am to have you as a big sister. Thank you for being such a great part of making camp "home" for me over the years, and for continuing to create sacred spaces wherever and whenever we are together.

  2. So far the only folks who seem to want Bement are the Alumni and all we need to save Bement is Money.

  3. Thank you for this, Meghan! You have captured the experience of so many of us.