I have this recurring stress dream that I have somehow managed to sign myself up for a job as a counsellor at my old summer camp. Me in my early 40s, with all the hormonal 17-year-olds, $100 a week. And no luggage. It’s awesome. I had the dream again last night. I had to get to camp via several different plane flights, and (aside) somewhere along the journey I lost track of my dream-daughter. On the final flight, I was seated next to my fourth-grade nemesis, Jodi Schonfeld, who — for the record — was entirely pleasant to me and was equally confused as to why she, too, was headed back for another summer along the shores of Lake Kalamalka. I guess people really do change. (Or, karma?)
When we got to camp, I was amazed at how different it was since my last summer there in 1990. All of the cinderblock cabins (true story: when my mother visited me at camp in 1982, her comment upon entering my bunk was, “It looks like they have you in Auschwitz here.”) had been razed to the ground and in their place were these gorgeous, contemporary, zillion-dollar “cabins,” with custom-built shelving and bunks. I was horrified that level of luxury, tried to tell the bored and eye-rolling 17-year-olds, staring at their phones, what it had been like when I was (IRL) a camper there: no one had unpacked my bags or air-conditioned my cabins. We didn’t have iPhones.
One counsellor in particular was particularly scathing. She looked a bit like Mischa Barton, obviously, and she grabbed me by the wrist on the shores of the human-made lake and said something insulting, although I don’t remember what. I think it was vaguely homophobic, though. And so I did what any self-respecting dream version of myself would do: I pushed her into the lake.
And then, in my dream, my Twitter feed WENT BANANAS. All the other counsellors were right in there, so thrilled to see their resident mean girl soaked and pwned by @Mamanongrata. “u go grrrl! @Mamanongrata” “@Mamanongrata rules @mischab u suck! :-D!” Etc. I was a complete hero.
I don’t know what this all means. I have nothing against Mischa Barton at all — I barely know anything about her, aside from tabloid headlines that I read while standing in line at the grocery store with my mom-groceries. For the record, it doesn’t look like she needs anybody to be pushing her into a lake right now. Even though that’s what happened in my dream. In any event, it’s somewhat heartening that my camp stress-dream had a happy ending, for a change. Maybe it’s a sign. Maybe it’s karma.
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By the way, if you want a spot-on description of what life was like a camp, have a listen to This American Life’s “Notes on Camp.” Brilliant. And scary.