Monday, August 6, 2012

Family that your heart picked

Having grown up as an only child, having siblings is an uncharted mystery I never really understood. While I have half-sisters, I was 20 when they were born and have never lived with them longer than a summer when they were newborns. I love them dearly but I'll never be as tight with them as they are together.

I felt incredibly awkward when we lost DaHubby's brother to cancer in 2005. How could *I* understand what it was like to lose a sibling? And, I still struggle with how the Vikings get along - one minute loving each other and the next screaming at the other.

But, God's sent me other sisters my own age - those with whom I've crossed paths and they have been stitched to my heart.

Lisa's been around since 2nd or 3rd grade. Jodi burst into my life in 7th grade and I've been trailing behind her ever since. Carolyn & I were connected at the hip for more time than not from about 5th grade until we graduated high school.

I made friends that have been with me a while as adults as well (Jill, Shelagh, & Brian) who rode the ups and downs of a developing adulthood.

And, I've learned that family isn't always about blood but about hearts that connect, minds that meld, ears that really hear, and eyes that see the you that you see in the mirror and the you could become.

This was brought home to me in an unexpected way this weekend. I attended a reunion of sorts in my hometown of people I went to camp with as a kid. I attended a sleep-away camp growing up run by my hometown's Recreation Department. I started going when I was 8 or 9, continued until I was 15, and then completed several summers as staff in one capacity or another.

And, while I bear many typical battle scars and emotional baggage from "regular" life growing up, something about that camp was magical for me.

Camp made me feel brave, funny, and invincible. It made me laugh hysterically and sob uncontrollably when it was over each session. Suddenly, I had no problems making friends or catching on to a new skill whether it was swimming, canoeing, archery, or something crafty. I never remember feeling awkward, embarrassed, or traumatized by some adolescent drama. It was a controlled environment where I somehow felt fearless.

And, I carry so much of it with me to this day...tomboy, nature freak, sailing fan, canoe enthusiast, crafty attempter, honeymooner while camping in Northern Minnesota, Girl Scout leader...I could go on and on.

The people that were fellow campers, my counselors, and my fellow staff hold a special place in my heart. While I may not remember each by first glance, after a quick hug, a reintroduction, a couple funny stories, a few wacky songs, and we are all kids and teenagers again.

I had such an amazing time with a relative few people - WAY more fun than I've had at any high school class reunion. And, they are all like extended family. Like the saying about fudge - they are mostly sweet with a few nuts (*cough* Ray *cough*) LOL

Unfortunately, our camp is no longer standing. It's now been de-forested and flattened into a golf course, for pete's sake! But, there are pictures, stories, and songs that keep it alive. And, that place - even if just for a week or a summer - was one of my most favorite places ever. 

And, those people are like family.

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