Last night I had the pleasure of seeing my favorite musician and favorite client Lisa Loeb perform at Joe's Pub. The show wasn't an ordinary Lisa Loeb show. This was a show celebrating the release of her kids record called Camp Lisa. The commemorate the CD she sang songs from the record and had people come up and tell their stories of camp. I felt inspired and wanted to write MY camp story as well.
Although I have very good memories of camp (this one included) this is kind of a sad story. It's about the loss of your first love in a very real way. After you read the story, feel free to download the song that I wrote about this boy and about this experience.
Let me begin by saying that this is no ordinary camp love story. It's different, partly because it's mine but partly because I have nothing left of it but a few pictures and some rapidly fading memories.
The story of my first love begins at 14 years old in the summer of 1995. We were all wearing flannel shirts in summer and the Reality Bites soundtrack was on heavy rotation.
I'm not quite sure when I first noticed him. He was a barely overweight, sweet looking boy with the greatest head of curly hair I had ever seen. I vaguely remember asking him what he would do for a Klondike Bar while waving my metallic frozen confection in front of his face. From that moment on, we were the inseparable, perfect camp couple that everyone wanted to be.
Most of that summer flew by and only poorly maintained memories are still available to me. I do remember his leather cabby hat that he used to encapsulate that massive head of curls. I remember the two of us singing Stephen Sondheim's "I Am Unworthy of Your Love" on stage in front of a theatre full of confused children. I remember making out every night on the blacktop outside of the boys bunk. But mostly I remember walking. We would parade down a dirt road, hand in hand from the mess hall back to our bunks. At some point he would stop me, look up and say "this is the most beautiful place in camp. ". With his head pointed towards the sky we would stare at the sunlight trickling through a heavy tangle of branches and trees.
After that summer we did our best to "stay together". We made phone calls that were just a bit too long, we dabbled in a new technology called "email" and I even made the trip across the country to spend the week with my love.
By the first day of camp the following summer, he had forgotten the love we shared and broke up with me.
Roughly ten years went by and news of a camp reunion quickly spread. I wasn't particularly excited about seeing anyone from camp. That is, except for him. What was he like? What had he done with his life? My curiosity led me to type his name into a web search. The first result was some kind of news story about someone with the same name, but it couldn't be him in the story. Next result, same news story, still it couldn't be him they were talking about. Third result...his fathers name. His father thanking the police department for aiding in the search, thanking the people who said prayers, thanking the people who attended the funeral of their 24 year old son. He had gone hiking, then missing and then his body was found almost 3 months later. I wept for his family. I wept for the fear he must have felt. I wept for the 14 year old boy that I loved who will never get to see his camp friends 10 years later. A few weeks later at the camp reunion, I sat in the middle of that dirt road with my head raised high to feel the small rays of sunlight dry up all my tears.
When She Looks Up