‘Because it’s fun’, they said. But I couldn’t imagine anything fun about sleeping in a bed that wasn’t mine, having ‘friends’ that were not mine, or having to eat a hotdog that wasn’t made in my kitchen.
But the decision had been made, and I found myself being driven up to a campground hours from home. Of course I cried all the way there. My parents, who were chatting happily under a cloud of cigarette smoke, said ‘You’ll love it!’ My sister Sue, who was thrilled to be busting out of the house, had her head out the window and was singing her heart out. She’d only pull her head in long enough to smooth her hair, look at me scornfully, and call me a ‘sucky baby.’
Once we arrived, my parents had to pry me out of my seat. I begged to go home with them in their smokey car, but after seeing that there was another adult to take the reigns, they couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I watched them as they drove off, my mothers arm sticking out the window, a cigarette resting lightly in her fingers.
That first night we sat by the fire. Sue was having the time of her life. Leading a sing-song, clapping her hands, and pretending that she didn’t know me. Meanwhile, I was huddled under a blanket, silently trying to digest a burnt wiener. I caught my sisters’ eye for a split second, just long enough for her to mouth the words ‘sucky baby’. I prayed that someone would come and get me. Which they did, the very next day.
As I was getting ready for work last night, I had the same feeling I did as when I was being sent off to camp. Having been close to home for the last eight months, the thought of going back to work with a crowd of people I hadn’t seen in a while was not the least bit fun. I couldn’t imagine walking into the office with my inch of hair, my hat, my lopsided boobs, and eight months worth of emotions. Not my old self at all. And, I’d have to eat a sandwich that wasn’t made in my own kitchen.
But I did what I could to get ready. Gave myself a pedicure. Did four loads of laundry. Cried. Then my sister Sue called to ask how I was doing, and I cried some more. She asked what I was so worried about and I said that I don’t feel safe at work - I only felt safe at home. There was a short pause.‘But honey,’ she said, ‘You were never safe at home this year. You had terrible things going on in your head.’
And she was right. If you don’t feel safe in your head it doesn’t matter where you are. So I got up the next morning an listened to my old friend Belleruth and her Guided Meditation. Together we conjured up some magical friends and special protectors to help me through my day.
And so I drove myself to work. Instead of my family by my side I had my magical buddies and some well loved ancestors who were ‘nodding their approval’. And instead of a cloud of smoke I had my soft air pillow full of love, which is much less ridiculous than it sound, and healthier than cigarettes.
And I got to the office, and pryed myself out of the car.