Wow. Some days are just loaded with holidays! You’ll have to get started early in order to celebrate all three of these because they run the emotional gamut.
Fishing. I sincerely enjoy fishing as a sport but cannot stand to eat fish. I’m more of a catch and release girl. I caught my first fish at Buckeye Lake when I was four years old, with my drunk Grandfather acting as my coach, while he was off peeing behind a bush. “Just reel it in, Dan-elle”. He always pronounced my name as if it were two separate words instead of how my parents intended it be pronounced, Duhnelle, which isn’t much better. Is it any wonder I eradicated this name from the line-up? So, I caught a catfish. Nasty looking creature. And there was no way I was going to eat it.
Fast forward a few years. 1988. Pennsylvania. I’m a camp counselor at Camp Weequahic near Binghamton, NY. Camp for the very privileged, ages 6-16, predominately Jewish kids from the NY-NJ area. The kids were dropped off in June and picked up in August. I was hired for my knowledge of photography… they had a darkroom at this camp! Since I’m a fair-complected individual, being in a darkroom at a summer camp in the Poconos is a perfect place for me. I was also hideously shy (I know some of you will doubt this but my high school friends will understand). I didn’t know a single soul at this camp. I decided to go on a whim. I was there for a week before the campers got there – getting the darkroom ready – and while I met my co-counselors, I didn’t really branch out and meet very many others.
So. The very first day that the children arrived I was down at the fishing dock helping the wee-little ones adjust to being without their parents. I was tending to several six-year-olds, helping them with their rods and setting them up with bait. I was bridging a gap between two piers to help some of the kiddos get from one side to the other. With a leg on either dock I would lift up the kiddo on one side and place gently on the other. One child decided to leap at me instead of waiting to be gently placed on the other side. I caught him, but my balance wasn’t what it should be since my legs were spanning two docks floating in the water. We went in. It wasn’t very deep, but it was rocky. I came up, gasping for air, but my little six-year-old daredevil didn’t. Here’s where we start to celebrate International Panic Day. I dove back in and was able to grab my little sweetie-pie’s shirt. I pulled him up. Come to find that his shoe was caught in some rocks – that’s why he couldn’t get up. He was sputtering, gasping for air, and I was convinced that his first words were going to be “I’m going to sue you”. I checked him for major injury. Whew. Just a few red spots. I shouted to another counselor to watch the kids and started running towards the waterfront director. I just knew I was going to be fired. I didn’t realize I was hobbling more than running. When I finally got to the waterfront director, I was gasping for air. Grabbing onto his shirt for support I started babbling “I… just killed… a… six-year-old… on the… fishing dock. I know… you’re going…. to fire me.” Panting. Gasping. I’m a natural over-reactor. The waterfront director, Paul, Â looked toward the fishing dock and saw a soaking wet kid, but he was well enough to be fishing again. He tried to get me to calm down before I started hyperventilating. He told me the little boy appeared to be fine but he was ultimately worried about me. I started panting again, trying to tell him that I would eventually stop hyperventilating, and he said “No. There’s something really wrong with your leg.” At that point, I stopped breathing all together as my head shot down to look at my leg. Indeed, there was something really wrong with my left leg. There was a gash from just above my ankle to just below my knee. And a flap of skin that hung from the right side to the left side. I started to pass out.
The next thing I know, I’m in a golf cart headed for the infirmary. The doctor was trying to tell me that he was going to give me stitches. I started hyperventilating again (I’m supersize afraid of needles – another story for another time) and refused the stitches. Since I was dead-set against getting the stitches he had to wrap my leg up as if I was being prepared for mummification. AND I had to stay immobile for several days. Which meant I was laying in the infirmary for a week instead of teaching photography and being a counselor to my 12-year-old girls. Nobody knew who I was so nobody visited me. I spent my days reading Judy Blume books (since it is technically an infirmary for adolescents… not 20-year-olds!)
When I was finally sprung, I hobbled down to my bunk. On my way many people stopped me to ask who I was and if I sincerely belonged at the camp. So, I had to start the painful process of reintroducing myself to everyone all over again. And, instead of being known as “Sarah” (my first name, which is what I switched to after my 19 years of being Danel) everyone called me SCAB. I had that nasty scab all summer long. Good thing I was in a darkroom for most of it!
Go out and SPLURGE on something today. More tomorrow. 🙂