her name is Rebecca so i like her right away.  i notice that she came to arts camp all by herself which, in my opinion, is a brave thing to do.  i watch as she sits quietly, her dark curly hair draped over one shoulder, her eyes watching as the other girls tell secret jokes and stories from last year.  she sits at the end of the table eating her lunch quietly, watching as sandwiches are devoured and more jokes are passed around. she comes to me with reasons why her throat is sore and she can’t sing very well today.  i wonder if it’s nerves or she really is fighting a cold. as others are waiting for parents to arrive at the end of the day to pick them up, she gets on her bike and rides home by herself.

my mind takes me back to days of my youth.  the camp where i knew no one.  the tent-mate who never talked to me. those with friends sitting around the campfire telling stories and sharing secrets.  i remember the feeling of loneliness all too well and i feel a lump well up in my throat.

youth can be a strange and lonely place.  i often recall moving to a new city and dreading the start of a new school year where i knew no one.  another memory rises in my mind how i came into contact with a girl who took me as her friend immediately.  was she lonely, too? i don’t think so but she took the chance and spoke to the new band girl, offered to eat lunch with her became my best friend during high school.  

am i more aware of kids like Rebecca because of my own story? arts camp is only one week but maybe quiet Rebecca can find a friend, make her own secret jokes and stories and be more aware of others like her.  and then, she can be the friend next year to the lonely girl.  i sure hope so.


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