I was nervous to be going because we would be carpooling in my mom’s red suburban with a bunch of camp people and a few non camp people, including Carissa. I was nervous driving the red beast to the parking lot of Fred Meyer where we had all decided to meet up. I parked and started calling everyone letting them know exactly where I was. People came out of their cars excited for a fun day in the sun jamming out. Everyone was talking about getting posters and tshirts signed. Mongoose hopped out of Tejas’ car looking the strangest I had ever seen him. Oh boy…I thought….he really has no sense of style does he….
He was trying to look like a conservative rockstar. This meant he had tried to create a Mohawk with that beach blond hair of his. He hadn’t tried very hard because the peak was flopping over and losing its muster already. He wore some plaid yellow shorts which was part of this plaid short/striped shirt uniform that the male head counselors had decided on. He wore an MXPX shirt and….bright yellow wrestling shoes. It looked like a costume and I teased him a bit.
Carissa showed up and I was anxious to be around her. I didn’t want her to hate me and I didn’t know what to expect. She had every right to be standoffish and cold, but surprisingly she was bright and happy and talkative. On our way to the concert we listened to some music and somehow Disney got thrown in the mix. Carissa screamed out that she loved a particular song from the movie Hercules as it came on and I found myself excited to know someone else appreciated it as much as I did. We laughed and sang boisterously. Everything was going to be fine, I realized. This girl was not like the girls in high school I had come to know. She wasn’t jealous or bitter or mean like I was expecting. She contradicted the stereotype of a high school girl with her maturity and sweet heart.
We arrived at the concert and some guy walked up to our group and asked if we would like to hear his cd. Carissa and I looked at each other and agreed. We jammed for a minute and decided we liked his stuff. We bought one cd, cut the costs and she gave me the burnt copy a couple weeks later. Again, I was shocked with how much I liked her. It wasn’t weird or awkward, only if I let it. So I let go as much as possible of my anxious nature and just decided to have fun.
The concert was a blast. I mostly stayed up on the hillside keeping watch over all the goods and relaxing and enjoying the music. The boys of course wanted to go to the mosh pit. They would mosh, crowd surf, come up the hill for water and sit and then do it all over again. It was a wonderful day that ended with a great performance by Fall Out Boy. We all were happy and exhausted. My mom had friends who lived in the town nearby who agreed to let us sleep in their yard which overlooked the Columbia River as well. They were out of town but it was a memorable evening of everyone crashing in their sleeping bags.
We woke up to some automatic sprinklers that were set to go off at 6am. Not really ideal for a bunch of tired teenagers. Someone tied a plastic bag over the one that showered us and we drifted back to sleep. Alarms went off as the reality of our summer jobs set in. We all packed it up in the car and drove back. Back to sleepless nights taking kids to the bathroom, back to chicken nuggets and spaghetti, back to capture the flag and friendship bracelets, back to our reality.
Camp was the greatest. Every day was filled with the same structure but something new was always happening. I would get to spend at least an hour with Mongoose without kids a day, it was always the highlight. We would kiss in the staff lounge, to the misfortune of our coworkers. I am positive it was as awkward as it seems. We would go on walks or take a trip to Silver Beach, the RV park convenience store/restaurant that was about 10 minutes away. We would get a milkshake and sign our camp names into the counter with a sharpie. Our names are still there.
I found out that Mongoose was quite talented on the guitar during the summer. This I learned during staff training but he never ceased to amaze me with the peppy tunes that he came up with. He would sing some songs I knew and sometimes he would just make up funny lyrics. It always melted my heart to hear him play. He wasn’t the most talented singer but what he lacked in voice, he made up for with his smile. His smile radiated from his very being. Even when he wasn’t smiling it seemed like he was. I couldn’t quite figure it out. Why did he always seem so happy?
I mean he didn’t have a perfect life by any means. His family wasn’t very well off, his father struggled in some areas, and so did his mom. When he told me about his childhood, it was infinitely different than mine. He had to grow up at a young age and had to deal with an unruly sister. He had every reason to complain about how hard his life was, but instead he just smiled away being better because of his experiences rather than dwelling in them.
We talked a little about it. He mentioned how his being Mormon helped him immensely. He didn’t always expand on this, but I started to pick it up as our relationship furthered. He had a relationship with God that I envied. It was like he knew Him. He would mention how keeping certain commandments made him stronger instead of making him feel like he was constantly missing out on something.
I was definitely intrigued. I was happy that I had found a boy who treated me with the respect that I knew I deserved. I was even happier that he didn’t party or drink. It relieved me to know that there were boundaries as far as our physical relationship went. Kissing was good and fun, but it stopped there. He had standards similar to my own, but they were rooted in something deeper. I held the same standards but I didn’t always know why. He taught me about my relationship with God in the process of explaining why these standards were important.
Now I am not going to say that I was perfect as a teenager in keeping these standards before I met Mongoose. I certainly had my fair share of feeling like I was making some pretty big mistakes, but I always tried my best. It is so much harder when you don’t surround yourself with those that hold the same standards. I found this out the hard way, but I am grateful that I was always eventually led to those who helped me maintain my standards rather than compromise them further. I was kept safe, but I would definitely have to deal with some guilt later when I realized the impact my mistakes really had on my spirit.
As summer progressed I felt like I had been led to meet Mongoose. He understood me so perfectly and it seemed too odd to me that I could find someone who really saw me. Not just for who I was, but for who I could be. He was a diamond in the rough of the small town I grew up in.
Click here for Part 11