Our time working up at camp was to be honest, distracted. We lived in another world up at camp as it was and we got to see each other often. It was also beneficial that we were working because we got to see how each other worked with kids. That’s one thing that I realized was really important to me up there. I saw the way he treated kids, he looked at them in the eyes and listened to their goofiness and played along with it. He pretty much turned into a little kid.
My deep desire to be a mother was so pleased with this. I am a girl with “daddy issues” you could say. I love my dad and he has been a great provider but as far deep interactions I was sorely lacking and I always wished better for my own kids. Yes, even at sixteen I was thinking about my future family. Maybe it is because I am a girl or maybe it is because it is such a part of who I am as a person. My mind prepares for the future.
But besides being delighted with his interactive skills with children we got to know each other really well on the weekends as we would stay up late and talk about everything. I found him so easy to talk to. He listened to me and with the wild abandon of a first love I spilled everything to him without trying to “protect” myself. I find that comes after you have been hurt even by someone who supposedly “loves” you. So far I hadn’t had that experience so I just let my thoughts flow out.
We talked about our families and what it was like growing up, we talked about previous relationships and why they didn’t work out, we talked about our dreams and opinions. This guy was so different from other high school guys. He cared about what I had to say and actually valued my intelligence. I found myself growing closer and closer to him as I shared more and more of who I truly was.
Weekends also involved going to town and running around with other camp friends. One night Mongoose, Smalls, and I headed over to my parent’s home for some dinner. This was the first time Mongoose would be meeting my family and the first time I was letting my family meet a boy I was dating. I was proud of this boy and knew that he would do just fine. We got to my house and headed to the backyard which is where everyone always is, enjoying the sunshine. Some of my siblings were playing badminton and my mom was sitting on her swing reading a book. After some introductions my mom decided on getting some Thai food for dinner. I grew up eating Thai food and loved it, Mongoose and Smalls had never even had it.
“Wait so what are we eating?”
“Thai. It’s food from Thailand, like tofu, noodles, rice and stuff. It’s really yummy.”
They both gave me a worried expression. These were meat and potato boys and I think the word tofu kind of freaked them out a bit.
While my mom ran inside to place the order over the phone, Mongoose decided to try out my brother’s skateboard. He stood on top and pushed himself forward with his right food and then realized that his balance was off and the skateboard was ahead of him. Like any normal person would he jumped off and let the board go skating ahead of him. Unfortunately the force he pushed himself with was pretty strong and he had chosen a direction that sent the skateboard directly into one of my mother’s flower pots.
It shattered and soil burst forth covered a section of the patio. He turned bright red and immediately started apologizing. Smalls and I were both laughing hysterically and some of my sibling ran over to where all the excitement was.
“Don’t worry,” I explained, “My mom won’t care at all. It’s not a big deal.”
He didn’t seem to believe me. I don’t think he actually thought my mother would be upset about a broken flower pot but it was the fact that this was his first time meeting her and he obviously wanted to make a good impression. This was not the way he had imagined things going.
My mom had heard the shatter and came outside to make sure everything was alright. She smiled and laughed and told him not to worry. We all picked up the dirt and replanted the flowers in another pot. My mom left to go pick up the food and we started a game of badminton. One of my older brother’s happened to be home for the weekend from some summer courses at UW and I was most worried about them getting along.
I desperately wanted my brothers to like Mongoose. They gave me no insight as to whether they approved or not, and they weren’t ever going to. Not verbally at least, because we are not a “touchy-feely” family and we don’t really talk about our relationships.
Food arrived and we explained to Smalls and Mongoose how to eat everything and what to try. They both looked incredibly skeptical but obviously wanted to be polite and started munching away.
“WHOA! This is good!” I started to hear them say in between bites.
“I told you so.” I gave Mongoose a smile and we all enjoyed our meal.
Meeting Mongoose’s family was definitely a different experience. It was late after a Friday night up at camp and we had headed back into town. Mongoose’s father was picking up the boys and us girls were going elsewhere. On the way down, Tejas tried to give me advice on how to greet Mongoose’s father.
“Dude, you gotta flip him off! He will love it.”
Mongoose laughed and tried to explain that Tejas was being serious.
“Um….I don’t think so. Even if he does like it I don’t really like flipping people off, especially when I first meet them….” I tried to counter back.
“No seriously Gidget, he will love you so much if you do.” Tejas was unrelenting.
I did not flip Mongoose’s father off, although I did have a serious internal debate about whether or not I should. I decided that ultimately he would still like me if I didn’t and that I didn’t want to risk him thinking I was some crazy girl.
I think his dad was a little disappointed to learn that I knew it was ok to flip him off and chose not to, but he just laughed and told me I looked like a little garden gnome.
I don’t know where he sees garden gnomes but I have never seen one that remotely resembles me. This nickname stuck however, and I was referred to for a very long time as “the gnome.”
I met his mother at another pick up time when she was dropping him off after attending church. She smiled and said hello and Mongoose jumped into my car and we drove away to try to make it up to camp in time for our staff meeting. There wasn’t time to talk.
Summer started to roll by and we continued to talk and kiss and kiss a little more. Man, I could not get enough of his kisses. He couldn’t get enough of mine either. During mealtimes he would wander in the kitchen to get an extra helping and I would also decide to get more rolls or bacon or something and somehow we both found a way to make it into the walk-in refrigerator, close the door and steal a few kisses. Sometimes we would even go into the freezer portion. It was so fun and exciting being surround by freezing cold and kissing his warm lips. We only got caught doing this once, most of the other staff was pretty oblivious or knew what we were up to and didn’t seem to care. But I felt like a secret spy and it made our relationship exciting and full of sparks.
I continued to feel that chemistry that came when he bandaged my finger and I as much as it scared me, I was a comfort at the same time. I knew that the feelings inside me were good and they made me the happiest I had ever been in my life.
Click here for Part 10