This is a quick one, but one that was felt intensely.
Jack is gone. He is at camp for a month. One month.
Appropriately, we watched a baseball game on his last night at home. Jays-Yanks and we watched the entire thing. It was a sloppy embarrassment of a game for the Yankees but then they climbed back to tie it, only to lose it on a walk-off error. We sat on the couch together, snuggling and yelling at the Yankees to play better. I could smell the dusty scent of his hair.
We drove to Vermont the next day through awful squalls of rain, and stayed in a motel. Next morning we had pancakes with thin, sweet Vermont maple syrup for breakfast. We weren’t supposed to get to the camp until 2:00, so we went for a hike up Vermont’s deepest gorge, but none of us were present.
We took him to the camp. Camp councilors applauded each new car that arrived. We took him up to his cabin where Alex helped him unpack his things and Shani helped him make his bunk. I couldn’t help but think that only the top two shirts in the pile would actually be worn.
We headed down to the nurse for an initial checkup and to sign in with the head of the camp. There was a soft tension all around. The parents and kids all wore it. An excitement but a hesitation. Jack immediately drifted away from us and went to the basketball court. He found a ball and started shooting baskets along with 3 or 4 other subdued boys.
He was ready. He’d been preparing for months. He knew this day was coming and he was ready to show himself and us.
“What’s the best strategy for leaving?” I asked the camp head. It was happening so fast. We’d been there less than 30 minutes.
“Just go,” he said. And I knew that was going to be his answer.
We headed towards Jack, who was now kicking a soccer ball around with some other boys. He came right over. He gave me a quick hug. Then Shani.
Then he got caught, of all places, on Alex.
They fumbled at each other. Alex put up a hand to slap five but they also bumbled into each other in a misfired hug as they spoke over each other.
….I’d rather kick you in the butt”
Jack’s face was suddenly patchy and red. He hadn’t thought about Alex at all. He knew he’d be away from Shani and me. He’d considered that at length. But he hadn’t counted on being without his genuine-but-never-admit it best friend and companion.
And then we left.