Our counselors tell us to go to bed, so Leah, Monica, Eva and I have to return to our room. Monica wants to go to bed and keeps telling us to shut up. We try to talk quietly until she falls asleep. Eva and I tell Leah about my first year when we went on an overnight campout in tents and I stepped in a huge pile of dog shit and didn’t know it and they made me throw my shoes outside.
After we all stop laughing, Leah says, “So hey, where do albinos come from?”
Eva bursts back into loud giggles.
I’m a little stunned. I’m fourteen and I live in a world where “albino” isn’t often spoken. The sound of the word always stops me. “What?”
“Well, like, where are you guys from?”
Eva calms down enough to tell her, “They’re not from anywhere.”
“Oh,” Leah says, laughing at herself. “I thought maybe it was a country, like Albania or something,” then she laughs at herself for not knowing. I tell her it’s a genetic condition but not linked to nationality. I could go on to talk about recessive genes and all that, but I don’t. Eva keeps teasing Leah for asking and Leah keeps laughing and after a defensive moment or two on my part, I start laughing too.
Suddenly Monica jumps out of bed. “Holy shit! I forgot my pantyhose!” she yells and lies back down into sleep. We re-double over with laughter.
This is an excerpt from a long-form memoir project I’m working on called Eclipses of Jupiter, about growing up with albinism. There are a lot of chapters devoted to stories and experiences from different blind camps and programs and this is from the chapter on my third summer at Camp Marcella, at age fourteen.
I changed all the names (I usually do). Seems only right.
- Music Takes Me Back – Camp Marcella 1993
- Reading Eyes and Faces
- My Face
- Writing as Time Travel
- She’s a Girl Rising From a Shell