Hooray! I found my camp-best-friend from 1988!!!
Seriously, I have been looking for this girl for 10 years. I was actually going to post her name on the blog so that if she googled herself she's find me. She's an elusive one! But it turns out, she just graduated from the University of Florida with her MFA in fiction. How weird is that?
Nikki was just one of those people who made a really big impression on me when we were very young. We both went to Camp Echo Trail, a girl scout camp in Pennsylvania. I actually had to pay dues and be a girl scout until I was 16 so that I could continue to attend this camp. I'm sure it was run of the mill as girl scout camps go; I went to a couple, and they were all pretty much alike, but I always loved Echo Trail the best. It was huge and far away from home...there's still a part of Greenfield Lake near the boat rentals that smells like woods and latrines in the hot sun that takes me back instantly to camp.
I was so in my element there--the first time I went, I was 8 and I went for a week. My mom carefully packed me a day's worth of clothes in a plastic baggie for each day that I would be there, but I never went past the top layer of my duffle bag and so just wore the same thing for the whole 7 days. When I got home the "terrific tan" everyone thought I had came off in the shower. It was dirty and messy and dramatic and intense the way only young girls can be when living in tents together away from home for weeks at a time. Nikki was from Pennsylvania, and she was my summer friend for about 6 years. We always arranged to be in the same program each summer and she came to embody to me the whole meaning and pleasure of camp. I was so sorry when we lost touch.
And so Google is redeemed. It may have told me that my ex-husband is sick, but it delivered Nikki back to me and with her my very first pinnacle moment--
It's the greenest summer in the woods--shady and lush--and our unit is having a cookout. Nikki and I are standing at the top of the hill looking down at the rest of the campers--our counsellors are grilling hamburgers on a charcoal grill, there's a swing set, the rest of the girls are running around and screaming. Someone calls to us and Nikki takes my hand and we run down the hill toward everyone else...and in that moment, I just know that she's my best friend forever and that I will never be happier than this.