He stands in a swaying sort of way with his weight shifting from one untied tennis shoe to the next. He holds one arm behind his back with the other arm, holds it at the elbow in an awkward way like he might be nervous for a first date or to ask a girl if she might want to dance at a middle school turn-a-bout. When he stands in the sand on the beach, it always seems like he’s standing just a smidge sideways. He’s a teenage camper at this youth camp who calls me Miss Linda, which is out of the ordinary.
This is the boy I fell in love with in the early days of the camp. In love like I’ll make sure no too-bold high school gal breaks his fragile heart. In love like I’ll help him with his science project after school. Or listen to his piano solo before the big recital. I’ll match his checkered tie with a green collared shirt under his suit and tie a double windsor for him, show him how. In love, like I’ll screw his glasses back together, even when he loses the screw. In love like I’ll spend my time in want for him to succeed. Not in love like the romance novel; in love like my Father for me.
When we herd a hundred or more campers onto the busses Saturday morning, the girls from my cabin shuffle around in the sand searching for me, requiring hugs before they depart. So I stand off by a fallen tree and sip my Starbucks coffee, waiting for them to come running. And out of the crowd comes my favorite little boy, whispering Bye, Miss Linda. And, more in love with him I fall. And even if it’s just this one thing, which it may be, this one thing has made the summer a summer of purpose and worth.