Early that winter, I went on my first overnight Girl Scout camping trip. My mom was working more at the newspaper, so for once, she wasn’t one of the troop leaders. We arrived at a big cabin called Hammond House. The walls were the color of wood and little cots lined the walls. The cabin was a long rectangle. One of the girls had recently learned the “Light as a Feather” game and we played it incessantly. One girl would lie in the middle and we would all surround her, purring two fingers from each hand under her. The person at the head gave a fake eulogy and then we all intoned, “Dead as a doornail, stiff as a board, light as a feather” over and over slowly lifting the scout in the middle up off the floor and up, up, over our heads. There were a lot of us, girls and girls and girls lifting, and it felt magic. We even did it on our troop leaders. I only got to be in the middle once.
We took turns with other similar games. We cracked invisible eggs on each other’s heads, and trailed our fingers as the yolk pouring down. We made our fingertips be spiders on each other’s backs. We made each other close eyes then told stories that involved certain touches—maybe the spiders and egg yolk—but ended in getting pushed off the Empire State Building. At that part, we gave a little shove to the shoulders. It was supposed to make the girl really feel a falling sensation, the power of the story.
I loved it anytime I got to be the subject of all of these games. I was desperate to be touched. It felt like without being the kid of the strict mom, the other girls included me. After four years, the kids were indeed getting used to me. Not one girl recoiled or refused to touch me or yelled about catching my germs.
We made hot chocolate in the snow. We went sledding and came back to Hammond House for more esoteric games. I was already looking forward to coming back next year.
The days got shorter and Mrs. Domaracki seemed to be in a better mood as we had holiday parties and concerts in class. Still, it was nice to get a break from her and go visit Nana for Christmas. It was an eight-hour drive all the way to New Haven but when we finally got there, Nana was at her front door. She hugged and kissed us as we came in. Her house was comforting—her tree in the front window with its lights a bit different from ours at home, more white, more pink and its boughs hung with little ornaments we had made. She had white candles in all of her windows as always. As hard as this year had been, for a little while, the world felt cozy.
After a few sections about all that getting in trouble, I wanted to include some of the good as well.
So this is an excerpt from a chapter from a project I’m working on called Eclipses of Jupiter. It’s in its infancy still, but it’s about growing up with albinism and being legally blind in my crazy family, and all the school and social implications. It’ll also focus on blind camp and related programs when I get into teenage years. This chapter, which will be broken up into installments and posted over the next few weeks, is all about fourth grade, which was a bit of an epic school year.
Next Segment in this Piece: Dark Winter Chill
- The “Truth” About Me – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 1
- Instrument Analysis – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 2
- Mystery Worlds – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 3
- Bathroom Jungle Gym – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 4
- Caught in the Act – Truth, Lies and Wicked Witch 5
- Driving Blind Under a Desert Moon
- Dusky Waters, Orcas Island
- Music Takes Me Back – Camp Marcella 1993
- Writing as Time Travel