The night before Jake goes to camp he tells Lisa “Mom, if Dad loses it in the parking lot of camp I’m going to lose it.” He has never been away from us for an entire week. I’m trying to be strong. I repacked Jake’s bag three times.
Jake is constantly singing. I can tell he is nervous. Lisa labeled everything down to the individual socks. I marveled at the paper thin decals with Jakes’ name printed on them. They attach on to anything. NASA must have come up with these labels. This way astronauts don’t get their delicates mixed up. Jake is guaranteed to forget at least one thing. A few centuries from now, an archeologist will discover a lost sock of Jakes’ and know this is where YMCA Camp Colman once stood.
I decide to drive Jake to Long Branch, WA. More for me than him. We pick up Jake’s two other buddies. Listening to the Beatles, a battle breaks out between the three twelve year olds on whether Abbey Road is better Revolver. I throw the White Album into the mix. Absolute chaos with Jake trying to one up his buddies on the Beatles lyrical history. This argument is broken by the kids singing “Maxwell Silver Hammer.” Jake tells us that “Martha, My Dear” was written about Paul’s dog. Then Jake’s iPod shuttles to “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road.” There is nothing like hearing ‘tween boys rip through that song with glee.
To get to Camp Colman you must cross a tight one lane road that splits through the middle of an inlet, with the Sound on one side and a wide lake on other. Camp Colman’s cabins and lodge hug the steep walls of the hill. The views are gorgeous. You can absolutely imagine pirates living amongst the Douglas firs and evergreens.
The camp opens at 2:30pm. We are at the gate 2:00pm. We’re in early so the boys get prime picking. Jake and his buddy are the first to secure their bunk beds. There is an advantage to having a father who likes to break the rules. I hang around to chat with the camp counselors. I witness a father awkwardly exchange a quick hug with his son and depart. Oh! – I think, I would never do that. Jake and I are tight. He still holds my hand. We even kiss on the lips.
The time comes. All the kids have picked bunks. Time for the first cabin meeting. The counselors start to assemble the boys. I look over at Jake. He is waiting to see if I’m going to break. I look around the room, the sun is pouring into this forest oasis. He is safe. Jake is going to have a great time. I smile. I go over to hug him. Instead of our typical embrace it’s replaced by a quick awkward hug. Damn. I’m trying to hold it together. I move to the front door of the cabin. I exchange pleasantries with another camp counselor, just in time to see Jake looking back at me. He is struggling. I give him the thumbs up and a big confident grin and I turn and go out the door.
The experience is like ripping off a band-aid. It is more for him than me. I get three feet from the cabin and I lose it. The drive home is a long one.
I have some comfort. The entire family went to see “Eat, Pray Love.” In one scene, Javier Bardem says good bye to his adult son. He hugs and kisses his son and starts to cry. I look over at Lisa and the kids and they are laughing. “What?” I ask. Jake points to the screen “Dad, that is soooo you.” I’ll take being compared to Javier Bardem any day.
I miss Jake.