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SUMMER BLUES

There’s this Journeys song my mother likes to sing before Pesach and it goes something like, “I’ve got the here come Pesach bluuuuues.”

Well, I’m singing that song in my head now, only it’s about the summertime “bluuuuues.”

I know what you’re thinking. Who doesn’t like summer?

Me, that’s who.

Ok, maybe I’m jumping the gun a bit. I mean, I’ve always loved summer. It’s just this particular summer that I am dreading.

If I am honest, though, it could be just a little bit my fault that I ended up in this situation.

It all started a week before Shabbaton, when Rivka started pestering me about summer plans. She knew I was holding out for an acceptance letter to camp for July, but that didn’t stop her from begging me to join her as a counselor in her family’s bungalow colony.

“Come on!” she pressed for the millionth time as I attempted to hang up on her. “You’re perfect for the job! We’ll have a blast!”

“No,” I answered, also for the millionth time. “I just know I’m going to be accepted to camp. The whole wait-list thing is nonsense. There’s no reason why they’d take me for August but not for July. I’m sure I’ll end up there for the whole summer.”

She badgered me the entire way up to the Shabbaton, and continued to try to talk me into it on Shabbos afternoon after the seuda.

“Wait,” Malky said, overhearing the one-way conversation. “Rivka’s inviting you to spend first half with her and you’re saying no? Gosh, I’ll take the job, Rivka. I have no plans, and I’d love to work with you.”

“Great,” I said. “Take the job. I’m going to camp for July.”

“Camp?” asked Malky. “You’re going for August, not July. You were wait-listed for July, same as me.”

“Well, you can just give up and go somewhere else, but I won’t do that,” I insisted. “I know I’m going to camp.”

“You’re nuts,” said Malky. “You’re going to go crazy. There’s no one around in the city in July, and there’s nothing to do. You’re making a big mistake.”

“Wait, Malky, you really want to come with me?” cut in Rivka.

The conversation veered away from me as they began excitedly planning. But that was a good thing.  I didn’t need further discussion of my plans.

A week or so later, Hadassah called after school. “Any update on the camp situation for July?” she asked.

“Not yet,” I answered. “I asked my mother to call again tomorrow morning to follow up.”

“I heard they accepted too many girls as it is,” Hadassah said, “so I wouldn’t hold my breath. But why don’t you look into the new camp, I think it’s called Ahuva or something. Bracha and Yitty are going there, and it could be there’s room because it’s so new.”

“No way,” I said. “I’d never go anywhere but Camp Gila. That’s where all my sisters went, and I just know they’ll make room for me for the whole summer.”

“I think you’re taking a big chance,” Hadassah said. Luckily, my mother called me for supper just then, so I didn’t have to bother with an answer.

I was reviewing my halachah notes later that week when Simi came bounding over. “Batya! Guess what? My aunt will be running a traveling camp the first week of July, and she offered to let me join the program with a friend! Want to come? You’ll only have to pay your plane ticket!”

“Thanks so much, but I’m planning to go to camp in July,” I said.

“Oh.” Simi’s face fell. Then she brightened. “Ok, maybe next year. I’ll go ask Sari, I heard she’ll be around.”

After that, the offers stopped pouring in. My mother refused to call Camp Gila anymore, because she said it was one thing to ask and another to harass. “I think we’re past the asking stage,” she pointed out. “The director told me he’d love to take you for both halves, but there is just no room.”

Still, I held out. I was sure that someone would back out, or that some member of the camp staff would realize that they just couldn’t deny a Fried girl half a summer of fun.

With just three weeks to go until the first day of camp, I pulled out the old duffels and began packing. My mother walked in. “You may want to out that duffle away,” she said, smiling. “I just got a call from Tante Lay and she’s willing to pay half your ticket to London if you’re interested in visiting for July. If you can babysit for Ahuva for a few hours a day while she’s at work, Tante Lay will take you touring and teach you to cook the rest of the time.”

“Ma,” I said, rolling a sweatshirt into a ball, “I’m not going. I want to go to camp.”

My mother sighed and left the room.

Well, here I am, a week before the start of camp. As you may have guessed by now, I never got that acceptance. It’s too late to book a ticket to London, join the traveling program, or try the new camp, and Malky took that counselor position with Rivka a long time ago.

I’m just sitting here on my bed with that “Blues” song in my head, picturing my friends’ excited faces as they pack and unpack and have all sorts of adventures while I swelter in the city with nothing to do.

Go ahead, blame me.

That’s just what I’m doing – blaming myself – as my mother walks in, hesitating at the doorway.

“Batya,” she says softly, “I know you had your heart set on going to camp for the whole summer, but August isn’t far away. You’re lucky to be going for one half. Some girls don’t get to do that.”

“Yeah, I guess,” I mumble, trying to act like I’m listening.

“You know, Miri just called me very upset,” she continues. Miri is my oldest sister and the mother of my cutest little niece, Shifra.  She lives in Lakewood. “Her babysitter just quit and she has no one who can take over on such short notice. Do you happen to know anyone available for the next few weeks who might be able to babysit?”  

“Is this a live-in position?” I ask, suddenly interested, suddenly beginning to form a trace of a smile.  

“It would be for you,” Mom answers, smiling back.

“I think I might know someone,” I say. Shifra may be cute, but this is very, very far down on the totem pole when it comes to ways I’d like to spend my summer. Any of the other options I’d turned out would have been more glamorous than being a babysitter. On the other hand, it sure beats sitting home bored.

As my mother leaves the room to let Miri know that I’m available to save the day, I ponder the lesson to be learned here: It’s all for the best? Good things come to those who wait?

I think about those, along with several more, as I pull back out a duffel and start to pack once more.

 

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