Monday, August 31, 2015

Sunshine and Sea Salt

Summer ended today. For me, summer ended as a group of friends dropped me off at another friend's apartment so I could catch a flight early the next morning. Even as I excitedly sit in the airport, waiting for my flight to take my to the next leg of my adventure, a part of me wonders why I am leaving people and a place who are so incredibly good to me. Something good ending, especially a summer as enjoyable as this one, even coming at the cusp of an exciting beginning is always a sad moment for me.

And as my summer has been drawing to a close, I’ve tried to spend every last moment with the people I love so dearly, and was fortunate enough to catch up with a friend from last summer who was on the island for just a little bit. We were reminiscing on the golden days of the previous summer and sharing stories of the intervening year when he started telling me about friends whose relationship had fizzled as the school year started again because it was built on, as he so eloquently phrased it, “sunshine and sea salt.” The implication being that clearly nothing between them could have lasted, having been built on such a foundation as that. 

And that poignant description stuck with me all through the next day–everything I treasure about this place, rests on sunshine and sea salt. It started building in the magic that is unique to the beginning of summer. When the light fades slower into the pleasantly warm evening, the glow of the stars and lightning bugs makes anything seems possible. All that summer could hold is big enough to make any dream feel destined to come true because in those moments all the dreams of climbing, paddle boarding, bonfires, friendship, marathons and spectacular camp programming will happen. There's no reason for them not to because the days are just long enough and ten weeks is just long enough to pretend like the magic of summer will never fade into Fall. But inevitably, the sunshine fades into a darker autumn and waters grow too cold to swim, and the question seems to arise with every heart-rending goodbye, will it be enough? Is the friendship we sowed with sunshine and sea salt enough to last?

It’s a hard question to answer because the answer only comes through time, and it’s not always yes. And it’s even harder, knowing that there are always people who remain only in the blissful memories of carefree evenings, baking in the summer sun. But then, there are those special cases–and I feel lucky because at CBC they seem to be as much the rule as the exception–that prove sunshine, sea salt and just a little bit of that summer camp magic can yield amazing friendships. 

It’s hard to say when exactly it happens, but somewhere between trekking up and down the hill, tag team counseling a distraught camper, and acting on those long dreamed of climbing trips, friendships are born that are as deep and fulfilling as those developed over many years. So when that moment comes to say goodbye and emerge from camp bliss, the parting sentiment goes much deeper than “keep in touch.” When I hear my camp friends say, “Let me know if you ever need anything” or sometimes more specifically, "Come on a road trip with me and then stay on my couch for a while" I know they mean it. 

In my two summers spent pretending like I’m a Mainer, I have made better friends than I feel I could ever deserve. And those relationships carried me through many of the less spectacular moments of the intervening year. From the friend I’ve called in tears, miserably stuck in my house on top of a mountain, needing a weekend away from my life to the ones I’ve called asking for a ride to the airport before 5 am. I know they would do anything for me because they’ve proven they will, and I, in equal measure, do the same for them–answer those 3 a.m. phone calls because I know that’s when they need it most and put plans on hold to edit papers shortly before they’re due.

In the incredibly short 20 weeks I've spent working at CBC, I’ve made the kind of friends that make my heart leap when I see a letter in Tyler’s handwriting, a voicemail from Paul or an incoming FaceTime from Jenny and Jim. It might not be an every day occurrence, but in those happy moments, the warm rays of summer shine through and I can smell the sea again.