The funny thing about working so many years for a camp located at the beach is that people assume that you spend virtually all your time with the sand between your toes. The reality is I would usually be right across the street from the water but wouldn't actually touch it until about two and a half weeks in.
For the first time since I was two, I'm not at that camp. The irony is I am still right next to the water yet not touching it. I am working at and helping manage a local water park in Upstate South Carolina. Managing and working in the ticket office, I haven't set foot in the pool, plunged down the slides, or drifted along in the lazy river. Things are very, very different this summer so it's kind of funny that such a random thing would stay the same.
I'm not going to lie, life feels weird. After the staff left for Seesalt, I described to EA that it felt like there was a hole in my heart. I believe that I made the right decision to move on but I had nearly three decades worth of conditioning that tell me that I'm not supposed to be at home. I'm Pavlov's dog, the summer is a bell, and for the first time in my memory I am not getting the food.
So I feel like I should have packed everything up and be teaching a Bible study or acting in a drama or playing bass in a band. But I'm not. I'm many miles from the beach, making sure the lifeguards do safety checks and fielding phone calls from angry old ladies who think our prices are too high (even though she knows I don't have the power to change them and they're cheaper than other local parks). And it's not bad. There are some really good people here but it is so profoundly different from my whole entire life's experience of summer, that I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone.
So sometimes I'm content. Sometimes I'm sad. Sometimes I'm wistful. Sometimes I'm excited that I get to experience something different. Sometimes I feel like I'm not where I belong. Sometimes I feel like an anthropologist studying a completely different culture. Sometimes it seems like I am in just the right place. Sometimes I feel like I am being way too reflective; I am where I am so stop pondering and just live. And I experience most of these feelings within one afternoon.
I'm writing this down because I don't know how else to sort through it or even if sorting through it is the right language. I talk with EA. She was at Seesalt with me for nine years and she understands, but her experience of it began to change after the boys were born. My brother and sister have both been through this and understand, but their experiences were unique to them.
It is just strange for a rhythm that I always knew to suddenly stop; to stop of my own choosing and believe in that decision but still feel the loss. It's weird to miss a place, but believe you're in the right place. It's weird to know the calling you thought you had switched and the new one is unknown, maybe similar but generally hazy. It's weird to feel like a stranger in your hometown because you've never been there in the summer before.
There are certainly things that I don't miss. But I miss the beach. I miss the people and community. I miss teaching. I miss being tasked with writing dramas and trying to creatively craft worship services. I miss playing in a band. I miss the excitement. I miss the way that God turned ballrooms and hallways, dinner tables and sandy dunes into sanctuaries. I can't tell you how much I'm going to miss having communion a night each week on the beach.
But I'm glad that I'm inland. Even if I feel a little lost and like a stranger, this is where I'm supposed to be. It'll take some getting used to, but it's slowly happening.