When I was maybe twelve years old I started going to camp. My mother gave me a booklet of the options and allowed me to choose which one. I’m pretty sure I just opened it and pointed. The one I chose was an all girls camp in Algonquin park. My first summer there was a two-week session at the end of August. I had such a blast. The games, the songs, the crafts, the food, the girls – everything was perfect.
Eventually I started going for longer. Those weeks ended up being the thing I anticipated the most each year. School was simply something I needed to get through before I could go back to camp. It was almost like having another life. One where my school status didn’t matter, where I didn’t have to perform for the boys, where I didn’t ever have to feel rejected.
One of the activities is that every age group learn new lyrics to a popular song which will then be your anthem to sing in the food hall. It ends up becoming a rallying cry while you’re waiting for another helping of chicken balls and rice. These were set to such greats as Vengaboys “We like to Party,” and California’s “Wave.” To this day, almost twenty years later, I still remember some of those lyrics that I sung for only fourteen days of my life.
In my last summer, one of the optional activities was to rewrite your own lyrics to a song for someone. That summer I had especially taken to one new counselor who was so positive and full of laughs. I decided I’d write her a song. And if you know anything about this song, you know it was the wrong choice.
“Every Breath You Take.” The famed song by The Police might as well be the stalkers anthem. And why a sixteen-year-old girl would choose it as a dedication to someone she had only known for five weeks is a mystery to me, even though I was that girl. The crazier part is that I’d been obsessed with Puff Daddy’s version “I’ll Be Missin’ You” since the day it came out and choosing that song would have been much less of an intense gesture.
I wish I could say that I remember some of the new lyrics that I wrote or that I made a duplicate and kept it all these years, but sadly (or thankfully) I did not. I gave the counselor my new lyrics on the last night of camp. True to her nature, she was full of grace when she thanked me the next day but in that moment I finally felt rejection. And I couldn’t ignore the thick, awkward air that surrounded us. An air that morphed into an embarrassment stink cloud that followed me around the rest of the day. A cloud that reappears every time I have the unfortunate luck of hearing the song play again.
To that counselor, know this: I am not a stalker. I am not watching you every breath you take. I am, however, shrinking in shame every time I hear that song. And honestly, I’ve only tried to find you on social media like three times since then. Congrats on the baby.