Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Downside of an Even-Keeled Life

I'm feeling a little blue tonight because I'm channelling my daughter's feelings.  Her absolute favorite place in the whole world, her Spanish camp, is going to close and she is devastated.

Grace is currently there working in the kitchen.  She attended the camp for eight years as a student and hoped to go back next year as a junior counselor.  This is her home-away-from-home in the summer.   Even though camp is over this Saturday, she came home briefly today just to tell us about it.  She's that sad.

It makes me sad to see her sad.  But it also makes me a little envious.  She has bonded so much with her fellow staff members and the students she has met over the years, that it is a little like her heart being torn out.  When was the last time I felt that way about a group of people?  When did I last cry over a parting with friends?    When did I last feel excited about everything and love everything as much as that?

In the 70's I went to Montreal for two-weeks to watch the 1976 Olympics.  I was twenty-one and traveling alone. My lodging was a hostel set up in a suburban elementary school.  Within the first hour of my arrival at the hostel I had met two women from Miami, two from New York City, two from Boston and one from Sydney, Australia.  We were best buddies for the next two weeks experiencing the excitement of an event watched the world over in a cosmopolitan bilingual city.  We met boys from other cities and managed to have a year's worth of crushes and romances in two weeks time.   A Frenchman, Jean, wrote me poetry.  When we went our separate ways to Olympic events, we met at the end of the day and told our stories.  I remember laughing a lot.  To this day I look back on this trip as the best adventure I've ever had.  When it all ended, it was truly like the ending to a great book with characters you want to see continue on with their lives.

In the 80's I came to Minneapolis to work for General Mills.   I wasn't alone.   Within a few weeks I had met women who to this day I still count as friends.  We started our careers together, all fresh and green.  Most of us were single and through the next four years, we had crushes and fell in love and (some of us, not me) got married.  We explored the city, partied, spent holidays and vacations together.  We gossiped about the same people at work and ragged on the bosses who couldn't figure out how great we were.  We compared notes on our latest and greatest projects.  And almost as a group, we decided to leave and go our separate ways.   I didn't fully appreciate how special that time was until I came back to work for General Mills in the 2000's.    Great people are still there, but that feeling of being with people who see everyday as something new and full of possibility was no longer there for me.

In the 90's I went to work for a start-up company.  We were all working to make a great success out of something that in the end turned out to be a great failure.  There's nothing like the stress of a great high profile failure to bond you together.  We laughed to keep from crying.   We went through a battle together and now bear the same scars.  And like soldiers who fought together, only those who were there can understand what we went through.   I'd drop everything for a reunion with these comrades, but alas, I've lost touch with most of them.

So I'm a little jealous of my Darling Daughter.  I miss the camaraderie and support that you feel when you are joined at the hip with a group of friends.  She's got so many more chances at intense friendships and experiences.  I don't know if my future holds similar possibilities.  Surrounding yourself with new people in a new adventure is risky, while an even-keeled life, a life with little change, is comfortable.   I like to be comfortable.

I just suspect it's not nearly as much fun.


  1. onward and upward. time to move on from spanish camp. time for adult life camp.

  2. Wow, for a second there I thought I had a new and mysterious blog follower. But, it's just my adventurous nephew. I think it is still a little too early for Grace to start her adult life camp. Maybe I could go to camp.