Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stross Goes to Scout Camp: Day 4 (in a series)

Boy Scout Camp – Day #4
10 p.m., Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The weather brought most of the state rain last night, so I began today checking in with Mark via text: Did you get sleep? His response: Yes, rain was quite soothing. I feel rested … a couple heavy moments, but nothing drastic.

I sure hope they are taking photos and remembering things to share when they get home. I haven’t really had time to learn details about all that Stross (with Mark) has been doing. I know he swam the perimeter of the pool; I know he earned his Totin’ Chip card granting him the right to carry and use wood tools; I know he has been learning to tie some knots; and I know he did something with a canoe, because when I texted Mark yesterday afternoon with a How r u today? I got back a one-word response: canoe. All those things sound so very Boy Scout; therefore, I am certain Stross is deliriously happy.

You see, Stross is a bit like Walter Mitty, the main character of a James Thurber story who escapes his dull-drum life by living amazing fantasies through his imagination. The difference with Stross is that he takes on a fantasy life that might be within his reach, if only. Or he lives in a fantasy life long enough to find parallels to his own. Fortunately for him, he experienced high school in the era of High School Musical. It is how he looked forward to and navigated things like prom. Then, whenever there actually was a musical being performed in high school, Stross tracked down a recording of whatever had been selected that year – Wizard of Oz, Oliver, Les Miserables, and Oklahoma – and then watched or listened to it over and over and over. By opening night, he knew nearly every lyric of every song and likely enjoyed performing on stage as a member of the chorus more than any other student in the cast.

Boy Scout Camp is proving to be no different. In the weeks – actually months – prior to camp, Stross began re-watching all the Disney movies about camp plus a few others. In fact, in the week just prior to camp, having exhausted all others, he watched Troop Beverly Hills (1989) starring Shelly Long multiple times. Somehow sensing that might not be regarded as something “cool” for a 19-year-old male to do, he watched it secretly using only his iPod. But I knew. And Mark knew. And Skye knew. We all know Stross pretty well.

I am thrilled that Stross is living his own cinema spectacular this week, but I wonder how close to his fantasy the week is turning out to be.

I am also grateful that this week has afforded me some Skye time. He has forever grown up in the muted darkness of Stross’ long and sometimes oppressive shadow. I could write a great deal about that. But not today.

Today, I’ll write that Skye and I walked downtown for a pancake breakfast at a local diner, something he usually does with Mark. And we truly enjoyed our time together. Makes me wish I hadn’t pulled away from our walk home to accomplish an errand. That side-trip resulted in an impromptu meeting. (Well, impromptu on my part. I am pretty sure the person who asked to talk with me had an agenda in mind.) That piece of spontaneity has pretty much ruined the balance of my day. Just when I was coming to a sense of peace about Scout camp, and just before Stross' call to tell me about the 5-mile hike he took today.

Me: “Wonderful, did you use the Gator or your wheelchair?”
Stross: “I walked.”
Me: Oh ... (thinking … “What?” … I’ll investigate that when he gets home.)

I would have loved to have fully enjoyed the call – to have listened longer to his news about smelling chocolate in the air of Waverly (courtesy of the Nestle/Carnation plant) and his plans for lunch at McDonalds (the reward at the end of his hike which, ironically, might be better for his diet than the lactose-laden fare of camp); for he sounded positively buoyant, even after expending 5-miles worth of energy on an early morning hike.

Unfortunately, his call came in the middle of that caught-me-by-surprise meeting. So I ended up apologizing, taking the call, and then answering, listening and experiencing the emotions of the moment in front of the other person. I had not wanted to taint the purity of the moments I would have with Stross on the phone, but I had not wanted to miss his call, either.

I guess it wasn’t all bad, for Stross’ joy – ever so briefly – offset the angst I was experiencing because of the meeting. The kind of angst that – if plotted on a pleasure continuum – would exist at the polar opposite of the pleasure I heard in Stross’ voice.

And you know what? Stross read my voice as well as I read his. For within minutes I got a text from Mark: Are u ok? Stross said you sounded like you might have been crying.

What an incredible son. What an incredible husband.

My text back: Long story. I’ll call soon to fill you in. Please don’t worry.

Mark might be experiencing a sense of peace today too; I don't want to be what ruins that even at a distance. But physical distance simply cannot dissolve emotional presence, can it? At least not during this week of Boy Scout Camp. At least not in our family.

Two short hours later our doorbell rang. It was a floral delivery person with a beautiful bouquet of yellow roses, burgundy mums, white Stargazer lilies, and some exotic green foliage I had never seen before. It seems there “ain’t no wilderness hike long enough, to keep them from getting to me, Babe!”

I am blessed, indeed.

Now, if the thunderstorms forecast for tonight would only dissipate – along with my lingering, frustrated anger leftover from that meeting today. But that’s not the way life works, is it? Storms thunder, rain pours, lightning strikes, and the best you hope for is a safe place to ride it out.

Just one more text to Mark before I go to bed: Don’t mess with lightning. Get to the van when u c or hear it.

Mark’s response: K, I love u.

I know.

Next: Stross Goes to Scout Camp: Day 5 (in a series) 

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