Boyhood summer vacations spelled pleasures, beginning with summer church camp in June. One whole week of rowdy camp songs, instant friendships and relaxed boundaries—formula for the unexpected.
In 1962 nearing my fourteenth birthday, summer camp meant Jimmy Burling from Britt, Iowa. Eyeing one another on day one, we were inseparable before evening mess hall. How we knew—even what we knew at that age—I’ve no memory. We just knew.
I recollect little from that week—except the one memory, which lives eternal. Mid-afternoon we were in our cabin. The other boys were out at play.
Jimmy, “Hey, Ric, let’s get naked and take a shower and then climb into bed together.”
Heart pounding, I attained instant nirvana.
…but I could not. I knew what that meant. I knew what that said about us—about me. “Jimmy, I can’t.”
After camp we wrote letters. I kept his for years in my scrapbook. It could only be described as a love letter. I knew what that meant. I did not reply.
In my imaginations, I have thrilled at the touch of two naked wet bodies scrambling under a thin white sheet and discovering the union of skin on skin—lips on lips—heart on heart. I have wondered ever since– “What if…?”