Memories of Camp Mighty have come back in dribs and drabs, and are covered with glitter and sticky with Tang. I still have water in my ear, actually. I am terrified of losing my index card where I made note of the 5 things I am going to accomplish this year, so I am going to record them here. But before I do, I want to tell you something.
If you read nothing else that I have written here, I just need you to know this:
If you are ever presented with an opportunity to attend something like Camp Mighty, you must take it. You don't have to be a blogger. You don't have to have a twitter handle. But if you would like to be inspired, to be surrounded by a group of compassionate and generous people and then challenged and cheered on, then you should attend an event like this. Something small-ish in size but big-ish in energy, in a cool location. The location of Camp Mighty was perfect - being in Palm Springs is like being on another planet, but with a hot tub and lots of fresh air. The people I spent time with were so amazing and kind and supportive and wonderful. Their encouragement made me brave. Which is good, because I needed it. I had a life list to wrangle.
But first, we had to get there. If you are contemplating attending an event such as this, but you think it will be too complicated or too hard to arrange childcare and buy plane tickets and rent a car and find someone to share your room with.....it's not. You can make this happen. I promise you. We flew from Maui to San Diego, had a great dinner with friends, and then drove through the night to LA, stopping to sleep and visit family for a few hours. After a quick shopping trip on Melrose, we pointed the rental due east and Sarah hit the gas.
I had never driven through the desert before. When you round a corner in the middle of absolutely nowhere and suddenly find yourself face-to-face with lush green landscaping and mid-century architecture, it's pretty surreal. We drove to Palm Springs from LA on Thursday afternooon, and drove to San Diego early Sunday morning to catch our flight home. Really early. We left Palm Springs at 1am, coasting through the desert overnight, high on adrenaline and Redbull, talking non-stop about what we were going to do and where we were going to go, and how amazing the weekend had been.
I was emotional. I was simultaneously pumped up and drained. Inspired and overwhelmed. It was exactly what I needed to shake myself out of this holding pattern I've been in, and choose a path.
I wished that I could have had one more day with everyone, with no flights to catch and no schedule to keep.
I wished that I had gotten a room at the Ace instead of the budget motel down the street.
I wished I had brought the bottle of red wine for the drive.
But these are not regrets - all of these wishes are good things. They are part of what I learned. If I ever have the opportunity to attend another Camp Mighty event, I will get even more out of it, because I know what is important to me.
Now that my memory has returned, that is.
Before arriving at camp I had a life list and a list of the events planned for the weekend. Knot-tying and opening a bottle of champagne with a sword were top on my list of camp events. But when we got there, I realized that this was going to be So. Much. More. than fun activities and an open bar. The things that had the biggest effect on me were not the cool stuff like wielding a fire extinguisher or learning how to make the perfect mix tape. Instead, I was fired up about the inspiring speakers (seriously inspiring - relatable and accessible and fun) and a long breakout session discussing our life lists.
And oh, those lists. We had to pick our top 5 items to discuss with the group. And by the time the first person had gotten to her third item, I had the Kleenex out.
People got real.
And in the midst of revealing some huge goal or challenge or dream - something personal or profound or just plain hard - inevitably someone else in the group would reach out a hand for a supportive squeeze, or chime in with an "I can help."
And help they did.
Since camp, missing people have been found, art has been created, friendships have been forged, things have been accomplished at an accelerated rate. Here's my list, which is rumpled but still on my bedside. Dana suggested "Rock Lobster" by the B52s as my karaoke song - duly noted, my dear:
1. Bake my grandmother's pie. The pie in question is a lemon meringue. I have her cookbook from 1952 - Meta Green's Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking. The note inside says "December 11, 1952" with her name and address at that time. In December of 1952, my grandmother was 40-something with a brand new baby that had been a big surprise. She was living on Long Island, and I can't even imagine what she was feeling. Maybe this cookbook and these recipes were a way for her to take back some control over her life. To plan meals, to bake during naptime, to create and express herself in some way. She had wanted to be a pilot, you know.
I'm going to make this lemon meringue pie, and then I am going to learn how to fly a plane. Two items off my list. I miss my grandmother.
2. Build a guest room. If you are a building inspector from the county, and saw our load of building supplies being delivered last week, FEAR NOT! We are not building a guest room. Oh my no. We are building a "storage shed". (To store our guests.) Nothing to see here. No permit required. Our guests love battery powered lighting!
3. Decide what I want to be. This is a big one. I don't know what I want to do with the rest of my life. I am one of those mothers who's kids are in school all day - not long enough for me to get a full time job without hiring a nanny, but long enough for me to be home every day bored out of my mind and looking for things to do. I have to decide. Am I going to work from home? Am I going to write? Should I learn a new skill? Which leads me to number four:
4. Learn to work a drilling rig. Part of attending camp was raising money for Charity:Water to buy a drilling rig. The rig will dig wells in Ethiopia, and provide clean fresh drinking water to people who have none. I want to learn how to operate one of these things. I want to understand how they work, how they choose the place to drill the well. And then? I want to travel to Ethiopia and see the rig at work. They don't have to let me operate it (although I will be wearing a hard hat JUST IN CASE THEY DO). I just want to be a part of something that changes someone else's life for the better. I want to put away this laptop and go outside and learn something new - something that will benefit others. I want to help.
5. And then, in the middle of saving the world, I want to nail a karaoke performance. Choose a song that will bring the crowd to it's feet, sing it like it's my JOB, complete with some sort of dance that doesn't look like I am having a seizure, and leave everyone cheering. I can't decide if this would be easier in front of a crowd of strangers, or people I know and love. I'm leaning toward strangers - at least the first time. Once I've got it down, I'll sing this one penultimate song at every opportunity. My apologies in advance.
So that's it. My list. I'm ready to go build the storage shed (for storing guests) and bake a pie. The rest will come in time. I'm gonna need some more Tang.
13 hours ago