Two years ago was the best summer of my life. 2011 will always be the summer. I graduated from high school and had the world by its tail. I was looking forward to the new circumstances of college. All of June I interned at Camp St. Christopher. Sure, I mopped kitchen floors and filled up water coolers, but I was also a part of an incredible camp staff and grew a lot in my relationship with God. Weekends consisted of swing dancing, grillouts at Oakland, and City Church. Native Charlestonians a year older than me, those who had previously been mere acquaintances, returned from their first year of college, and deep friendships were kindled between us. That summer I gained an appreciation for who I am and where I am from.
But this summer. Dang. What a summer. It was totally different, but it, too, was very sweet. Forever sealed in my memory as the Family Summer. I am bound to a special clan – the Compton Clan – and I never feel quite as whole as when I am back with them. You probably don’t even know exactly what this past summer looked like for me because I blogged about 20% as often as I wanted to. (Sorry). But I was living, and sometimes it’s hard to slow down enough to devote the necessary time to truly share all that has happened. So, just as I did at the end of April, let me give you a small recap of the highlights.
I chose to come home this summer because I knew it very well could be the last summer at home with all of my siblings. Gosh I love them. I didn’t end up doing anything too intentional, but just being, living together. Eating dinner, going to church, exercising, watching movies. It was just really special. Most college students are itching to leave after a few weeks, but that never happened. I have loved snuggling with RoRie and being available to go to breakfast with Hoffa or run errands with Mama.
Cambodia – I wrote. A lot. My faith was challenged. A lot. I experienced the culturaeof Southeast Asia, and I loved it. Sitting on an ancient temple watching thousands of Buddhist monks parade by. Listening to Vuttah’s laugh. Meeting the most polite, genuine people. Playing with the cutest kids on earth. Witnessing dirt poverty and passing by real brothels. Long, bouncy bus rides. Red clay roads. Unreal tropical beaches. Dry rice patties. Five extra pounds of steamed white rice and Blue Pumpkin Icecream. That is what I remember.
Costa Rica – Walking. Lots and lots and lots of walking. Adventurous excursions. Chill time. Unreal sunsets. Green on green foliage. Early sunsets and earlier sunrises. Ten hours of alarm clockless sleep. Getting creative in the kitchen. Casados. Mojitos. Expensive grocery stores. Real conversations with my siblings. Strangers becoming friends. Family Bible studies. Finding God on a mountain. The kindest people on earth. That is what I remember.
Cove Creek Camping – Every summer we move half of our possessions to a valley in the Pisgah Forest for four days and partake in some serious upscale camping. This summer, we outdid ourselves with a new Taj Mahal of tent canopies.
As I walked about ten feet behind, a passerthru’s kid pointed to our site and proclaimed, “Mom, that’s not real camping!”
“No,” I piped up, “but it sure is comfortable!”
Hiking. Skinny Dip Falls was my favorite this year. Always hiking. But also feeling like an actual grownup. And realizing all of the other kids are teenagers. Investing in relationships more than hiking. Hanging out in the lower meadow. Laughing at (and also being kind of concerned about) at my navigationally challenged sisters who turned a 45 minute trip from Ashville into a seven hour tour of the state. Frigidly floating down an icey river on an overcast day. (That was my awesome idea.) Fellowshipping in the truest sense of the word. That is what I remember.
Waitressing – “Hey y’all! Welcome to Taco Mamacita. My name is Jessica, and I’ll be serving you this evening. Can I get you started with something to drink?
“Would you like an appetizer? Guacamole, Queso, Chips and Salsa?”
“ We have three types of salsa – red, verde, and mango.”
“Escabeche is pickled onion.”
“Chorizo is Mexican sausage. They’re kind of like bacon bits.”
“No, we don’t have normal beef tacos. Or quesadillas. Unless you want to spend $12.99.”
“I recommend the Mexican Street Corn. It is an ear of corn with chipotle cream sauce and parmesan cheese.”
“Yes, it’s spicy.”
“I’m sorry, I’ll have the manager fix that right away.”
“Can I get that out of your way?”
“How about some dessert? We have King of Pops!”
“Thanks for coming y’all! It was a pleasure serving you.”
These lines are an engrained part of my memory taking up a little too much space. I learned a lot and worked hard in a way I have not before. Shifts turned into weeks of work on work, all blending together. I messed up a whole lot, and then I just messed up occasionally. I improved, and I didn’t get fired. I have a new appreciation for the people that serve me when I go out to eat. I know how to tip 20% in my head now. I made and saved some money. I learned a new management style. I hung out with people I wouldn’t have otherwise, and I think I got to bless some of them, too. I wanted one summer to waitress, I got it, and now it’s out of my system. I’ll remember my waitress schpeel forever.
House – I also got to help Mama a lot with different odd jobs at home. We cleaned out the garage and the office at Old South. Filing and counting, a lil’ bit of Point of Sale stuff at the barn. I went grocery shopping for her at Trader Joe’s sometimes. Occasionally, I made dinner. It was so fun to spend time with her and help this saint out in whatever ways I could. I love her a lot, and I like to make her life easier.
IJM Application – I blame this application on my absence from the blogging world. But yes, it is done. I have applied to be an intern at International Justice Mission in the Spring, and you know what? It might just happen. I don’t want to get my hopes too high, but I’ve made it through the initial application, the survey questionnaire (it rolled onto the 9th page people), and a phone interview. I had pretty low expectations to begin with, but the more I invested in each step of the process, the more I really want to work here. So we shall see.
So here I am, sitting at gate A26 in the Philadelphia airport listening to old potbellied Italian men speaking their native tongue. It’s impossible to smear the smile of excitement off my giddy, squinty-eyed face. The day has finally arrived; I am going to study in Italy. Hopefully, I’ll do a lot more than study. I am going to drink Italian wine and walk Italian roads and speak Italian. I’ll meet new friends and find a Nonna and dance. I will go on some of the best adventures of my life yet. I hope you’ll follow them.