My parents sent me to this stupid camp. Wooden cabins, steel spring bunks. You can’t bring phones. No internet. Nothing happening here anyway.
That’s why they did it. I live my life online. They say I’m missing out. “Swim in a lake, hike, pick up rocks and learn to skip them along the shore,” they said. “Breathe fresh air.”
It did get fresh, I’ll admit that. There’s a boy’s camp close by. My friend and I snuck out one night. We played board games in the moonlight. Who knew the counselors did bed checks? What did my parents expect?
Shelly never could explain herself. Not
as a teenager when her mother asked her where she’d been so late. Not
as a young mother when her husband left her a widow. Fifty years
later, a widow twice, it was her strong belief that she could get
along without a man.
Dry eyes, a straight back, Shelly stood
at the graveside. Her bottle black hair, a concession to old age,
matched the dark raincoat wrapped around her spreading waist. Her
daughters each had someone. She couldn’t explain why she envied them
the happiness they had found with men who adored them.
Tent packed, sleeping bag in the car, Sophie set off for the Florida Keys where, at fifteen, she had ducked through mangrove channels, oars pacing past leaf littered roots and crowding branches. With the divorce final, Sophie needed a vacation.
Drenched in sweat, she would breathe the soggy air, gathering the constituent parts of herself that had withered in a confining relationship with a man she still loved. She would smile at deer flashing their white tails as they sped away.
Water sheeted the windscreen. Sophie pulled over, the car rocking, the wind howling. Wet noise covered her inevitable disappointment.
Mother Nature announced that her nephew, Dorian, was limbering up for a run along the East Coast. Not known for her empathy, the goddess told an AP reporter that she’d be cheering him on.
She mugged for the camera. “Don’t you love my new look,” she asked pointing to her melting ice caps. “Things are so fluid now.” She held a towel, maybe longing for a hot bath or a long shower. “Global warming has changed my whole look. So many insects, forest fires, new algal blooms.”
She ended the interview saying, “It’s a new world. Get used to it.”
Anticipation is a feeling that I have when waiting for the red icon on the street sign to turn green. Cross to make a left turn. Across again. Walk three blocks through ranch style houses, their yards a riot of fall color. Occasionally, they look like our yard, their grass burned out and shriveled from drought. I think of xeriscaping the whole thing or maybe paving it with concrete. When I open the door, I will find you in your scanty robe. I will hold you close. You will fuss over me, feed me scones and tea. Then to bed.
Anticipation is a feeling I have when the horses are racing, really when anything is close to the finish. Well, not the dishes. Not sweeping or mowing the lawn. Something new. Something unique, even if I’ve done it before. Something where the outcome is unknown. Like the darkening of an eclipse. Or the sudden smile on a baby’s lips after a tantrum. Like flipping an omelet. Even with practice, you never know how it will turn out. Or the end of an argument. The stakes are high there. Sometimes too high to start one. Sometimes too high not to try.
Anticipation is a feeling you have when you walk into your classroom at the beginning of the year, the whiteboards pristine, the chairs and tables lined up just so. You start the first discussion, not knowing your students, nor how they will react to the topic or to each other. Inevitably, someone asks a question that makes you wary because it might be controversial and you don’t want to tread on toes. Or maybe you are brave. Maybe you test for fault lines. Or maybe you take the tried and true approach, saying, “What do the rest of you think?”