And so I found myself lifting duffel bags filled with t-shirts and bug spray out of the back of our station wagon in the summer of 2003. I had just picked up the last of my luggage when I heard the familiar grind of tires on gravel and a straining standard transmission coming up the hill behind me. I turned around, eager to see just who was gunning it up the hill toward Staff Site as the sound got louder. And louder. And louder. Whoever it was wasn't coming up the steep hill cautiously, they were putting the pedal to the metal, whether from excitement or necessity due to an aging car, I had no idea. I was just about to shrug and walk toward my cabin when a green Jeep Wrangler bounced into view and bounded to the top of the hill, coming to a dusty stop at the foot of the Quartermaster's Cabin. I stopped, hands around my duffle bag, and stared at the man behind the wheel.
He was pale, with dark brown hair and even darker brown eyes. From his seated position, he still looked tall. The build of a soccer player was obvious under his t-shirt. The car idled, music blaring from the stereo, and I saw him bouncing up and down in the driver's seat, a mischievous grin on his face as he looked toward the cabin on the top of yet another steep incline. Another staffer stood outside the cabin door, waving at the driver with a matching grin that practically screamed, "I'M UP TO NO GOOD AND I'M LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!!" The man in the car smiled again, crossed himself, shifted the Jeep into gear with a flourish, and gunned it up the incline toward the cabin, leaving a cloud of dust and a flurry of wood chips in its wake. Finally coming to a stop on the incline, the Jeep sagged against the parking brake, exhausted at its exertions. The driver jumped out of the car, high five-ing his friend with a hearty, "Hey, brother, how's it goin?" and they "embraced" each other in that sort of man-hug that resembles a sumo match more than a show of affection before they jumped into the cabin, greeting the other guys inside.
I still stood at the back of my parents' car. Still holding my duffel bag. My mouth was hanging open, with a single word on my lips, "Wow." I was just forming thoughts of who this dashing Man of Mystery could be when my mom sauntered past, holding a milk crate full of bed sheets. "At least he crossed himself first," she said with a sneer of parental disapproval. As she headed toward the girls' cabin, I still stood behind the car. Still holding my duffel bag. Still staring at the Jeep and its now absent driver. Still marveling.
...To be Continued...