when I met you in the summer

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

I’ve heard that cliche more times than I’d like to count in my life. Frankly, it gets tiresome. That being said, it’s pretty spot on. After all, where else did I look for something to do during the summer while I wasn’t fully employed anymore? I went back to the same place I’ve worked all those summers before. It wasn’t like I was looking for anything special or fulfilling, but I went back to a safe and well-known place. Basically, as I began to venture on something new, I found myself back where it all began…at summer camp!

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I sit here and realize that I won’t be at camp in twelve hours’ time like I have every Monday for the last two months. It’s a bittersweet emotion, knowing that sleeping in and resting is only because this glorious summer is over. I’ve loved it more than ever before. Everyone remembers my previous posts about being a role model and the emergency situation, but I don’t think it really clicked in those posts how much I’ve grown to love this job. I used to think of it as just this easy job that was a simple paycheck. I don’t know what moment turned that into actually caring about it, but I can say that this whole summer has been like that. I actually want to come in and be a good role model for these kids, which is more than what some can say for their attitude here.

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There is something special about camp. Anyone who has ever worked at a summer camp for more than one summer can attest to that. You watch these kids grow up, and it’s unbelievable what you feel. This was my fourth summer working there in seven years. The group that I’ve known from the beginning…they’ve grown so much. Meanwhile, I feel a little adrift, but I realize, this is all a part of the plan. I chased my dreams, and I will continue to do so.

IMG_3242These kids. These people. God, it’s so much. I’ve never been as happy with a summer at camp like this one. Bright Eyes continually asked me how I was going to be as the summer got close, and I don’t think I knew that she saw how happy I was. Last Friday was killer. I teared up a little bit. One of my favorites begged me to come to her soccer games, and I knew that everything I was thinking about in terms of being a role model was actually true. When you spend so much time with someone in their formative years, they’re bound to look up to you. It puts your life in perspective. On the flip side, those same people can rub off on you too. They’ve kept me young and probably not as mature as I should be at nearly 25, but I won’t be upset over that. I’ve been told I’ve got a good sense of humor, and I definitely know part of that is due to camp.

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I went to dinner with some of my oldest friends at camp after that final day, and I have to say, it was perfect, if not incredibly emotional for me inside. I knew that I would see them throughout the year, because – for the first time – I realized that camp was just a part of my family. Most of you realize I’ve had an interesting ride with my family as of late, and I think I forgot that there were people who were just as much my family that I kept forgetting about. I might be the oldest, and the one who is supposed to set an example…but that doesn’t mean we don’t all care about each other. I’ll tell you, it’s been one incredible summer.

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It’s a peaceful lake, where I work. So much of my life has been thought about and talked about near these waters. It’s funny to think that I only ever applied for a job that was an easy check…when it would become such a major part of me. There’s something about this place. It’s a sanctuary for me, much like the soccer pitch. I hate that it took all these years to figure it out, but now, as I impatiently wait 300 days for next summer, I’ve never been so excited for summer camp. It rejuvenated my soul in a way I never saw coming…another paradigm shift.

What a summer :)

-G

 

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oh wow

I once told you all that I write to compartmentalize my feelings. Basically, it helps me deal with things. I am still happy and stuff guys, but today is one of those days that everyone would have been better off staying in bed. I never want to relive today. It has been the perfect cap to a rather lackluster week. In the words of another counselor as we locked up and went home today: “After a day like this, I need a drink!

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Now, I’m not going to relive the entire experience today. I will merely gloss over it. My middle school boys and the middle school girls were playing Capture The Flag in the same place we have for YEARS. Yes, there’s some parts you should be careful around, but I have never seen anyone get worse than a cut or scrape from falling. Some of the younger kids have cried, but we move on. After all, as a kid, you’re going to fall and get some cuts and bruises. Now, that’s far from what happened today.

Before I go on, I want to bring up that, on Monday, I nearly snapped my ankle when I was playing basketball on that very concrete surface. I came down hard on my ankle and completely rolled my ankle over. It’s still swollen and everything now, but the swelling and pain has subsided from how bad it got. Hence, I’ve been hobbling around at camp all week. It’s been intensively wrapped and taken care of, but I still have not run on it regularly.

Anyway, they are playing capture the flag. I really can’t run, so I’m half hobbling/hopping after the girls team trying to tag them. I turn away and hear “GET SOMEONE NOW!” yelled at me twice. From where I am standing near the tree, I can’t see anything. Another counselor takes off sprinting away, and I could tell immediately something was wrong. I took two steps around the tree and saw one of my favorite campers (and one I’ve known for YEARS) crying on the ground hysterically.

The wound was bad. It was a complete accident, that she tripped on a tree root and happened to hit the ground at the exact angle to open up her leg. I thought I was good in crisis situations. I know I can’t deal with much in terms of serious wounds beyond blood, but I’ve never frozen before. I was definitely ashamed in myself for a while today, because I thought I could keep it together. It took a few seconds, but I came to and began a brave face for the girl. I helped clear the area and got the kids to other groups as four of us took charge. I went and took care of traffic, getting the ambulance and cop cars where they needed to be.

There’s something to be said for some people who are able to deal with traumatic experiences better than others. I really am proud of my coworkers today. They really stepped up for the first time something like that has ever happened. Also, I’m glad it took me so long to write this post. Just got a text that the camper didn’t break any part of her leg, just had a massive cut. Lots of stitches, but that’s it.

Wow.

I’m very relieved! I thought it was broken for sure. Still wish we didn’t have today happen! This catharsis didn’t need to happen I guess. Oh well, I’m going to go ice my ankle. Have a good night peeps!

-G

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late night thoughts

I have a very enigmatic relationship with summer camp. Part of me has always loved the opportunities I have to work there and be with these kids. Goodness, I’ve watched some of them grow up for years now. It’s a bit crazy to me, seeing that some of them are in the middle of high school now, getting ready to embark on seriously formative years of their lives. I can’t believe how grown they are with some of the stuff we talk about. It’s rather mind-blowing for me!

At this same time, I take a step back and re-evaluate where I have been. I always said I wanted this blog to be a figurehead, some kind of beacon that I could leave for people to see and still feel hope. They would know that they weren’t alone. I remember some of the comments I’ve gotten from people who love this, even if they don’t use what I say. I remember the hurtful things that have been said to me over this blog. At the end of the day, I’m not trying to be a martyr or anything. I just say what I need to say, when I need to say it. I wanted to inspire, but what if this place was never meant to be where I really needed to inspire?

If it isn’t obvious to everyone, I’m definitely moving forward with my life. I’m finally getting back out there and…living life the only way I know how: full steam ahead! I’ve met some awesome new people, trimmed some more cancer (some unwillingly), and found myself dreaming I could have everything I ever wanted again. Plus, I’m vocal about it between talking to friends and tweeting. However, I bring all of this up for one reason.

There actually are people are watching me live my life. It never really clicked until these past few days. These kids at camp…well, I can’t call them kids anymore. They’re teenagers and young adults that are facing life as we speak. I’m not overvaluing my self-importance to them, because several have actually asked my advice on things or texted me to say they’re doing what I would do.

Is this who I am meant to inspire? I don’t think I’m really supposed to know the answer to that question, but I will gladly do what I need to do. If that means living a bit straighter and a bit more upright, then I will. These kids are important, and I don’t want to let them down. If they can achieve just half of the absolute happiness and contentment that I have right now, then I’ve done my job. I should have seen it coming really, knowing that these kids have seen me for years.

Crap, I need to stop some bad habits then! :)

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I’ll cherish this, especially if this really is my final summer (how many times have I said this before, now?!).I’m going to make sure I stay a positive influence in their lives, because I know that, sometimes, it’s hard to find an ally in your corner. I’ve got just a little over a week left, and it saddens me now, as I have this revelation. I’ll just do my best. Who knows, maybe one of you reads this blog post tomorrow anyway.

Don’t you love these late night revelations? It has to be a throwback to the undergrad days, when I had my revelations on a rooftop overlooking campus. Now, it’s from the comfort of my home as I take major steps forward to finally grow up and be the person I have always wanted to be, to hold on to love and never let it go, to experience life at its fullest, and to never ever settle.

And I’m still smiling.

-G

Categories: exposition, my life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

stage of dreams

There’s something about the World Cup. There’s something about that magical possibility that exists. The soccer pitch has long been a place of sanctuary and freedom for me, and every four years, it gets a little more…magisterial!

The World Cup is for the dreamers. It’s for those whose heads tend to live in the clouds a bit more, because you have to dream a little then. Everything always seems a little more possible during the World Cup summer, a little more hopeful. You tend to be a little more receptive to dreams and desires coming true.

I can personally say I have. I felt that magic. I ran with it. I couldn’t be happier at the moment. When the dream is in your grasp, you have to take it. You have to celebrate those moments. It doesn’t matter how steep the hill is, because you have to take it. If that means moving across the country and jumping off the deep end, then YOU DO IT. Hold nothing back!

Everything feels a bit more magical in soccer. I daresay that without the majesty and dreams from sport, I never would have quit my rapidly climbing career to chase something that makes me happy. Even now, I attempt to keep going after dreams. When I’ve finally given up and ceded some control of my destiny, I have seen more and more that things just happen. When you’re too focused on some plan, you forget that dreams are possible.

So follow that dream.

Call it magic.

Whatever it is, remember to never forget what got you there, but at the same time, remember to keep moving forward. Never settle! Even though you and I can’t be fortunate enough to be playing in that stage of dreams, we can move on from it…taking that inspiration and running with it!

-G

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run it back

I really do love Tennessee. It’s just incredible. After spending another week there with some of my best friends, I just know it’s time for a change in scenery. There’s nothing against my lovely city that I’ve lived in for most of the past sixteen years. I’m from Georgia and the Metro Atlanta area…that will always be a part of me. However, didn’t I always try to impart to you all that my soul needed to wander?

Shit, I quit a great job and career because it was terrible but also because I needed something different. After the past two years, it’s a wonder I’m still here in this city. I love all that I have here. My friends and family are here. I would be a radically different person if I grew up anywhere else (yes, that’s a painfully stupid and obvious statement to make). That all being said, I love who I am…which is a far cry from how I felt about myself just a year ago.

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I’m getting to watch soccer every week in person…the old me would have never been given that opportunity. I’ve gotten to spend time with two of my closest friends and brothers much more often. Coincidentally enough, neither one is a friend from Atlanta. Both were met in Macon, and four years ago at this time, I hadn’t said more than ten words to either one. It’s funny the way time works…because I couldn’t imagine the way time works. I was a groomsman at the one’s wedding! I never ever saw that coming, and I still tell him that I was beyond honored to be chosen.

Hence, it’s time for me to stop living in the past for real. I think I’ve done a stellar job as of late. To hear the way people talk about my “courage” to quit my job and dive into the deep end of life without a safety net has given me pause. Did I accomplish much more that fateful weekend in Raleigh beyond my own emancipation? It was almost a rallying point now that I see it. I always wanted to be there for my friends, but will it turn out that the biggest gesture I ever made was being bold enough to get out of a bad situation?

Time will tell.

I’ve made my peace with anything from the past it seems. I’ve approached this latest paradigm shift in my life with fortitude and peace. As Broneal would say, I’ve gotten hope back. You never really know what bottom is until you’re on the upswing back. You loyal readers have seen me routinely declare that I am getting better. Well…

I stopped writing. I had to. I had to live and let live again. I had to get back out there. I apologize for breaking the promise to write more. I really meant it at the time. Nevertheless, I never saw all of this coming. I didn’t see myself getting wrapped back up in this kind of thing so soon, but I will gladly allow it.

For now, I’ll finish out my summer with what was my first ever job with campers and kids I’ve known for seven years. For now, I’ll spend my weekends exploring where my life is headed. Whether it be in Texas or Tennessee, Abilene or Atlanta, my only responsibility is to be happy and content. This might be incredibly selfish to some of you, but like a very wise friend once told me, never settle. So that’s what I’m FINALLY doing.

*~*~*~*

over six years ago

Everything seemed so different when this picture was taken. I’m not unhappy in the slightest from where I am, because the “real me” is here now, unlike then when I was desperately seeking approval for everyone (tough to admit). I’ve been able to get out of the circles I didn’t need to be in. I have the relationships I want to last me a lifetime. If you look at who I speak to on a regular basis and told me my choices a year ago…I would have laughed hysterically at you.

There’s no way I’m laughing now, though.

Have a good night everyone!

-G

Categories: exposition, my life, relationships | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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