Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Man, you leave town for a few days and the world changes.

It's exhausting. I looked up at my calendar and noticed I was still somewhere in July. I could flip the page, but that would involve a certain amount of committal to all that has transpired (like I have a choice in the matter.) I think I had a hundred emails, and I wasn't exactly able to respond to all of the ones on the bottom of the list before I left. These things just drop off, eventually, and people seem to disappear for a while. I don't much like it. I'm sure there's a system application that would remind me that I failed to write back to so-and-so, but then I'd get all sorts of pop-up windows that read: "YOU HAVE NOT RESPONDED TO "V1agruh4lyfE". WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEND AN EMAIL NOW?"

The Russians attacked Georgia. I bring this up only because I'm avoiding writing about Annabelle and Camp Fox, the things that have overwhelmed my heart. I know little about Georgia, except that it's not just a state but a democratic country that was denied entry into NATO and that China is watching closely how the world will respond because they have a similar situation with Taiwan. Russia did it during the Olympics, which I find suspicious in its timing while the world's attention is elsewhere. Couple that with the tension building between Israel and Iran and the current election cycle and all the other unknown quantities and dictators with oil and you have a Perfect Storm brewing beyond the horizon. I don't want to be a doomsayer, but this is the stuff World Wars are made of.

And then there's our own problems at home. They all seem to line up by height, and you go at them as best you're able. I came back from Camp totally spent, as was expected, and woke up the next day and headed down to the NICU at the Children's Hospital. I don't believe I've ever been in a more intimidating room in a hospital, with its cables and tubes, screens and buttons, stainless steel and ultraviolet lights. And there in the morass -tiny babies the size of your hand, struggling for life in this world. Annabelle is beautiful. I was told this beforehand and took them at their word, but she actually is. You immediately love her, and a certain burden of worry just drops away -as you suddenly find yourself willing to do whatever it takes. Whatever it takes. Her parents had the glow, in case you were wondering, and given the circumstances and all that has happened over the past six months, I found this an uplifting, cheerful relief. I thank God for it.

At camp there were troubled youths of a different kind. I have seen kids have the best week of their lives, only to be picked up at the harbor by the parents that abuse them. We sent one kid home mid-week for possession of marijuana (nothing new.) As he was packing his bags, he actually asked if this meant that he couldn't be a counselor next year. Camp is everything to some of these kids. They look forward to it all year, have fun for a week, they get some much-needed love and attention, and then they go home where they are lost and neglected again. They turn to drugs, or something like it, and eventually they bring these vices to camp. When he was disciplined for it all -whereby we had to take from him the only two things that he really cared about: pot and camp- he flew into such a violent rage that it actually had me scared for my safety for a moment. We had to call in some heavier directors to apply restraint. When the boat showed up at the harbor in Long Beach after camp -he was there, waiting at the top of the ramp. He hugged his friends. He hugged the camp director who sent him home. He looked haggard and worn and depressed. I've seen it a hundred times.

And it's one of a thousand stories. You get home and someone whines about cutting their finger or a screw is missing from their dumb patio cover and you just want to slap them. Don't you see your petty troubles are meaningless nonesense in this world of real lovers, fighters, and survivors? Don't expect people to care about your little pains, but take solace in the fact that love is a never-ending fount. Any mother with more than one child will tell you this: that the love is not divided amongst the children. There's plenty to go around.

Just don't waste it.