Wednesday, May 28, 2014

That Time with the Water

I can't remember if we were asked, or if we volunteered for the job. Opportunities to be unsupervised at camp came so infrequently, that we might have been halfway out the door before the order was completely given. In fact, we probably were halfway out the door given how we failed the assignment so completely. But that's not what I remember.

We were tasked with carrying a huge bowl, filled with water, from the girl's cabins up a hill to a common room where that night's activity was to be held. We were having a costume night--Jewish camp, we didn't call it Halloween--and the bowl was to be used for bobbing for apples. She and I were dressed in black and white, our best approximation of salt and pepper. It wasn't easy coming up with costumes from our limited selection of camp clothing, but we thought we were inventive.

It was our second summer at camp, between sixth and seventh grade, and though we'd known each other a while, she was my best friend of the moment. Best friends changed fluidly at camp. At times, it depended on who was in your elective, or who you paired off with best at free swim. She and I had already gotten in a bit of trouble for waking up too early and singing show tunes in the showers at the top of our lungs. We must have been really, really loud, because the showers weren't even in our cabin. The closeness in our friendship was still new, and I probably wanted to do my best to seem cool, to make her like me more. A paired off costume seemed so, so cool.

We scrambled down the hill quickly, and filled the large silver bowl from the hose outside the bathrooms. And then we tried to pick it up. The wet, slippery bowl was really, really heavy once filled with water. I'm strong, and I was strong then, but we couldn't manage it. Water kept escaping the bowl as we tried to push it up the steep, rocky hill. Our "costumes" got wet. By the time we were halfway up, the bowl had so little water in it that we decided to try again, and refilled the bowl. It never dawned on us that the bowl could have been filled at its destination, that we just needed to bring the empty bowl there.

I think a counselor eventually came looking for us. It couldn't have been long, maybe seven minutes in total, but I remember laughing the entire time. She was laughing too, and all night long she kept asking me if I remembered when we went to get the water, like she was aware we were creating a memory as it happened. She kept asking me every day afterward, too.

She didn't come back to my camp the next summer, and she probably doesn't remember this even happened. But I still do.

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