Summer of 2000

By Brooklyn Salaam, age 13
Summer of 2000 I didn't really enjoy writing until this class. Do you remember when you wrote in your diary? Well here's a story to remind you it!

“All my mom can talk about is how I’m going to be more independent, how I’m getting out the house, how my brothers and sisters won’t be there to annoy me, and how I can make new friends. I DON’T WANT TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS!”

Day One

Dear Diary,                                                                                                 

It’s my first day at sleepaway camp, and I really don’t want to go because I know at the end of the first day, all my stuff is going to go missing. My roommates are going to be slobs, and their stuff will be everywhere. This is going to be the most annoying summer ever and I’m really going to dread this. I can’t believe my mom is making me go to this. All my mom can talk about is how I’m going to be more independent, how I’m getting out the house, how my brothers and sisters won’t be there to annoy me, and how I can make new friends. I DON’T WANT TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS!

Okay, I’m calm now. It’s just that my parents are always annoying me about how I’m not a normal teenager and just do me. But guess what guys, that is fine because everyone is different and personally my life is perfect just the way it is.

ANYWAY, BACK TO THIS DREADFUL SUMMER CAMP.

I’m on my way now in the car. It’s upstate New York, which is pretty far from my home, so I can’t just run away. To be honest, I can try to enjoy this camp if they just give me my own room and I won’t have to worry about a whole lot of problems. Like, instead of worrying about people taking my PERSONAL stuff, I can worry about friends, nasty camp food, you know the normal things kids worry about.

I told my mom about my great idea about getting my own room and guess what she said, Diary? She said, “No.” Can you believe it? And you know what her reasoning was? You’re going to get a kick out of this. She thought having to share a room would help me socialize better. It’s messed up. I guess I have to go back to the drawing board and create a better plan because this one didn’t work.

Maybe I could pretend to be sick! No that wouldn’t work because once I “get better,” they would send me right back to that horrible place. Well that’s it for now I guess. My mom isn’t going to buy any of this. Goodbye world, I’m pulling up to this dreadful camp now. All these people talking too. “Alex this,” and, “Alex that.”

“Oh, Alex, good news! Your bunk-mates already checked in.”

No, is all I’m thinking. I am so not ready for this. My bunk-mates? I thought I was only having one! Ugh! Bye, Diary, I have to go now. I’m going to a hotel with my mom for the first night (Thank god!)  because I’m ”sick,” but tomorrow is another day of trying, so wish me luck.

 

Day Two

Dear Diary,                                                                                  

Watch this. This is going to get me out of this and my mom is going to fall for it.

Alex: Mom, I don’t want to go.

Mom: Sweetie I know you’re scared but you have to try new things.

Alex: I’m not scared of anything! I actually don’t feel good and if you don’t take me to the doctor, I’ll die!

Mom: Well, we know you’re not going to die, and if you’re not scared, why are you trying to get out of camp?

Alex: Camp is for immature children, Mother. I should be spending my summer getting a job and becoming a responsible kid.

Mom: If you can’t even be responsible enough to go to summer camp for a few weeks, how can you get a job?

Alex: You don’t have to be responsible to go to summer camp. I’m responsible to get a job.

Mom: Let’s get real, Alex. You don’t do anything at home, but sit in your room and do nothing all day. It’s not healthy. You should be outside playing with friends. That’s what kids do.

Alex: But mom! Having friends is stupid. I don’t need friends, and the outside is yucky. Why would I need to have friends and go outside when my room is awesome?

Mom: Everyone needs friends. You know, I met your godmother, Sandra, when I went to summer camp, and I can’t imagine not having her in my life. You’re going to love it, I promise. Hopefully soon you can find a best friend there and when you have a kid she can become your kid’s godmother!

Alex: Not everyone is like you. How many times do I have to tell you summer camp is not for meeeeee?

Mom: I’ll make you a deal. If you stop complaining and really try to make it work for 24 hours, and you still want to leave, I’ll come pick you up. But you can’t lie and just say it sucks. I really want you to try, Alex. Trust and believe I am one step ahead of you, so I will know if you are not trying.

Alex: Fine, but I won’t enjoy it at all.  

I did it! I thought of another plan. I actually persuaded the “grand master” (Mom) to stay with me. Well, until it backfired.

Oh well, I have a great plan to escape and I planned it excellently. It’s going to work, so as soon as my mom leaves that night, I’m going to escape through the forest. It’s not that big. When we drove to the camp, we drove through the forest on the road and I saw on the other side was a bus stop. I can get on and give a good explanation to the bus driver as to why I’m only 13 and taking a bus. Oh well, I can lie better under pressure.

Anyway, all I need to bring is my diary, my phone, water and food in my backpack. I can always get new clothes. I can’t escape camp by bringing my big suitcase. They would notice, and it would prevent me from moving fast.

***

I’m out of my room. My roommates kept asking me where I was going, but of course I ignored them. So I’m out. I made it. This is what happens when you don’t interact with anyone. You can easily escape because no one pays attention to you.

Okay, bye, Diary, I’m going to start writing on my iPad Mini. I brought that for navigation because I can’t risk losing my phone out here in the forest even though I’m not scared of anything.

***

So I’m walking. It’s pretty dark, and I’m not exactly sure of where I am. I’m pretty sure I’m lost, but I see this nice house. It’s night, so I go in. It’s quiet in here, so I guess no one is here. As soon as I’m in the shower I hear the sound of creaking floorboard and people whispering, “Alex.” I’m not really scared. It’s probably the wind.

As soon as I step out of the shower, something grabs me around my neck, covers my mouth and whispers, “Oh, such a pretty girl. What are you doing in the forest at night? You know that’s dangerous right? I suggest you leave tonight, and never come back.”

Of course I think its my older brother pranking me somehow, but you know how I am. I decide not to listen to the person who attacked me and I stay in the house like the BRAVE person I am. But tomorrow morning, I’m going to suck it up and go back to camp, because I definitely don’t want to die, and creepy person, if you are still there, I’m not leaving because I’m scared. I’m leaving because I’m scared I’ll get in trouble with my mom. If she finds out I broke the deal I will NEVER hear the end of it.

 

Day Three

Dear Diary,                                                                                      

So I’m back on campgrounds and it totally sucks. Everyone is cheery and sitting around talking to each other, painting nails, braiding each other’s hair, or in the lake together. I’m sitting here and taking in this madness and out of nowhere someone taps my shoulder.  I hear an over exaggeratedly voice say, “Hiya kid, what a happy camper you look like. Do you know what bunk you are in? Did you check in yet?” Of course I just rudely brush her off. In my head, I’m just thinking this HAPPY staff member is over excited and reminds me of my little sister. Bright colored shirt, untied shoes, bracelets up and down the whole arm, with a high ponytail to top it.  She just looks crazy. But of course, the HAPPY staff member she is, she continues to follow me so I give in and I tell her, “Hey, HAPPY staff member. I’m Alex. I don’t know what cabin I’m in and I just got here soon…”

“Well, sweetie that’s fine. Lemme help you out. Let me find my handy roster, and see if I can find you. Mhmh Alex Jones?”

“Yup.”

“Well, honey, you are in cabin 12 and both of your cabin members have already checked in.”

“Yay… That is awesome. Thank you HAPPY staff member.”

So I go to the cabin and it’s big and nice. The ceilings are high, the walls are clean and painted blue. To be honest, it’s way better than that creepy house. I’m really starting to think my mother was right about me liking this camp. I yell out hello, but no one answers. Thank god they are not here. Some alone time, I’ll write tomorrow, bye.

 

Day Four

Dear Diary,                                                                                           

I did it! 24 hours! I can finally leave! I can’t wait to text my mom and tell her to get me. I followed all her rules. I tried to participate and everything, but where was she when we made the bet? She said she would pick me up first thing in the morning, and it’s already two. I have been stuck in my bunk room because it’s “BONDING DAY” with your bunks-mates. YAY! Not. So I’m just sitting on my bunk with my phone and then one of my bunk-mates, Ruby, or Kelly, comes up. I honestly don’t remember who, and I could really care less. Anyways, she asks if I want to paint nails with them, and I put on my cheesiest smile and say, “Sure, I’d love to.” I was going to say her name, but I honestly forgot it. Oops my bad. So we are sitting there and the one with the blond hair says, “What color do you want?”

I say over-exaggeratedly, “Glitter pink.”

The one with the red hair says, “OMG! I was so going to use that color! Now we can be twins, YAY!”

On that note, I snatch my hand away and mutter, “Never mind,” and go back to my bunk.

Both of my bunk-mates come running after me and sit on my bed asking, “What’s wrong?”

I yell at them, “Get out of my bunk!”

They jump up and say, “Sheesh. Someone got up on the wrong side of the bed.” As they left I mutter a few choice words to myself. Im sitting here and I just realize my mom isn’t coming to pick me up. She definitely didn’t keep her part of the deal. I’m so upset. I scream into my pillow and throw it at the wall. I guess I really have to rough it out here for a few weeks, but I will come up with a new plan soon enough. Deep down I had a feeling that my mom wasn’t really going to pick me up after all, and she set me so to be honest I’m not that disappointed. But I’ll just keep that in mind next time mom wants to make a deal with me.

***

Kelly: Hey, Grumpy! Are you ok now?

Alex: Yeah, I guess this is hard for me to do, but I am sssssorry. I didn’t mean to be such a you-know-what. I just got really annoyed by your sunshine and rainbow attitude. I had to take a break, so I guess I’m going to have to get used to this place now and actually try.

Kelly: Well to be honest, I didn’t like this place at first either. Hannah, not exactly my first choice as a roommate, but the days you weren’t here I got used to Hannah. I know she can be extra excited, but you just have to give it a try.

Alex: Ugh, BITE me. This place sucks so much, I can’t.  

Kelly: Well, lunch is coming up next and you can sit with me. So far the only friend is Hannah, and I’m pretty sure she only thinks of me as her bunk-mate.

Alex: Alright, thanks. (I don’t want to admit it, but I’m actually starting to like this place, and I think Kelly is cool.)

Kelly: Come on, girl.  

She grabbed my hand then winked at me. I think I have a new friend, but I wonder what to do about Hannah. I’m not so sure I can take her energy. The level of energy she gives out is just so overwhelming that I wish she could take it down a few notches. Like, I just don’t understand how she wakes up like she’s on cloud nine. I think she lives off of rainbows and unicorns. Ok, I’m done being mean I have to try because I know I am going to be stuck here for a while. Um. Did Kelly just wink at me? My heart is racing. What is going on? Whatever, let’s just go get lunch. Will write when I get back from lunch. Thank god my mom didn’t come to pick me up, I guess.

 

Day Five

Dear Diary,                                                                                                

Ok, it’s hard to admit, but today was pretty cool. I continued to hang out with Kelly, and we did a lot things together. We went on a hiking trip, we did horseback riding, and we went kayaking. I’m so wiped out. I took a shower and I’m lying down. I’m just thinking honestly, why did I put up such a fight to come? It’s not that bad, and I am away from my annoying family. I think I didn’t want to come because I didn’t want my mom to win. She always gets the last word and she always ends up right. So I just wanted to show her that I won’t enjoy this and why she’d send me here, but it SERIOUSLY backfired because I’m really enjoying my time here. Well, tomorrow  Kelly and I are going to the campfire to make s’mores and get to know each other better. I can’t wait! Write tomorrow.

 

Day Six

Dear Diary,                                                                                             

Kelly: Come on, Alex! It’s time to go! Hurry up put your shoes on.

Alex: I’m coming hold on.

Hannah: Where are you guys going? (I can’t believe Kelly is talking to her. Ugh, omg, she is so rude, I can’t stand that girl.)

Kelly: We’re going to the campfire. Do you want to come with us? (I know Hannah is going to say no, but it’s worth a try to ask because I really like Alex, but if Hannah doesn’t want to come  that is fine with me.)

Hannah: Nope. I am fine right here.

All don’t know why Kelly would invite her. Thank god she said no. It would’ve been awkward if she said yes.)

Kelly: Okay, come on, Alex, let’s go.  

We go outside. Kelly turns towards me and whispers:

Kelly: Sorry about that.

I don’t bother with whispering.

Alex: It’s fine. So what did you want to talk about?

Kelly: Why do you always try to put up walls when people try to be your friend? Why do you always put people down?

“I DON’T KNOW,” I yell. I silently take it back and apologize. “When I was in eighth grade, I had this best friend named Cara. Or at least I thought she was my best friend. We were so close. We told each other everything, and then on day she approached me and said she never really liked me and she was using me because my mom gave her stuff when we would hang out. She told she only went over to my house to see my older brother. I was so upset that day that I vowed to never have friends anymore. So I built up a wall and promised myself to never let anyone in. That’s why when you guys tried to talk to me that day I just blew. I just… I don’t know, I’m really sorry for that conflict. That was not the real me. I promise you I am really a nice person.”

Wow, Diary, I can’t believe I just opened up to Kelly like that. I was not expecting that to slip out. My face feels wet. Is it raining? Nope, I’m crying. Just great.

Kelly: (Wow, I didn’t know there was another side of Alex. I just thought she was a regular girl with a bad attitude, but now I know that she has pain too. Oh no she’s crying! She needs a hug.)

Alex: (Kelly is hugging me right now. Okay, um, this awkward. I’m going to stop crying now, I don’t like being touched) Okay, enough about me. Let me hear about your life.

Kelly: Well, I live with my aunt in Oakland.

Alex: Oh, thats cool. I live in San Diego, but uh, why do you live with your aunt?

Kelly hesitates. Why is she hesitating?

Kelly: (Should I tell her? I feel like if I tell her, she is going to get weirded out, and not talk me anymore. I don’t want to lose my only friend here.)

I watch her face drop and I feel that I should take back my question, but I feel like if something is up, I want to help her, just like she helped me. I have a little feeling her problem is deeper because her whole mood just changed.

Alex: Sorry. I take that back, you don’t have to answer anymore. I’m sorry if my question upset you.

Kelly: No, it’s cool. Like, I want to answer your question, but I’m nervous that if I tell you, you’re going to freak out. 

Alex: I promise I won’t. Well, I’ll try my hardest.

I listen to Kelly and I stick to my promise.

 

Day Seven

Dear Diary,                                                                                             

That campfire conversation was very deep. Kelly and I got a lot off our chests. We talked so much and I can’t really tell you what happened or what she said because we promised each other. I just made a friend. I can’t just do that. I would want her to keep my secrets, so sorry, but our bond lead us to be SS4L( Summer Sisters 4 Life). Okay, I’ll write later. I’m just glad I made a friend I can trust. I guess I’m going to have to admit to my mom that this place is actually good for me and I have learned a lot. It helped me make a friend I can trust and share feelings with. I can’t believe I actually made a friend. I think this will make my mom happy. I think I will be ready to admit to her that this place was good for me and that I made a friend. That next time she suggest a camp, I will give it an honest chance and not put up a fight, promise. Will write later, bye.

 

Day Eight

Dear Diary,                                                                                                  

Hannah: Alex, we need to talk.

Alex: Wow, no hi? Okay sure, let’s talk.

Hannah: What is your plan with Kelly?

Alex: What do you mean? Kelly is my friend.

Hannah: Yeah, okay, sure. You can’t just string her along because… she probably hasn’t told you any of her business so never mind.

Alex: Actually, I know everything. She told me and I’m not stringing her along. I don’t know what you are talking about. She is my friend and I care about her. You are confusing me. What are you talking about?

Hannah: Oh, you’re not… I’m so sorry. Forget it.

Alex: Gay. You know you can say it, and no, I’m not. Hannah, I should be apologizing. I didn’t mean to take your friend away. She just really showed me how to understand friendships, and that I don’t always have to build a wall and keep people out from being my friend. I’m sorry for talking to you like that, it was not fair of me to do. I was hoping, maybe, I could try being your friend again.

Hannah: Um, okay, fine. It’s okay with me. Maybe we could go to the ice cream shack and then go horseback riding. I mean, I guess I did come on a little strong to be your friend. You seemed pretty cool, so I just wanted to try, but now I know to not do that.

Wow, today was a successful day. I made friends with both my bunk-mates. Hannah and I had a nice conversation. She is actually cool when you get to know her. She really doesn’t have a lot of energy when you actually hang out with her. Well on that note, this summer camp was pretty successful. I learned new things, have new hobbies, and I made new friends. I’ll write later. Today is the last day. My mom is picking me up tomorrow, but tonight is a bonfire.

 

Day Nine

Dear Diary,                                                                                          

Alex: (Wow, that was tough, saying bye to my friends and all, but I had to.) Wow, Mom, did you get lost on your way here when you were supposed to come pick me up after 24 hours, or did you just decide not to come?

Mom: Well sweetie, I was coming to pick you up, but you know, I got lost, so I just turned around and came back home. Either way that doesn’t matter because you made FRIENDS! Friends, Alex. I’m so proud of you.  

Alex: Mom, sorry for doubting you. I really enjoyed myself, but it took some time. It didn’t happen right away. But after a while, I started to enjoy it, and my bunk-mates helped me enjoy it to.

Mom: Well that’s all that matters, Alex. I’m proud of you. You didn’t enjoy it at first, but you stuck with it and then started to enjoy it.

Well that was my interesting summer, and that’s how it went. I’ll write later, bye.

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