Wendy Warner emailed me, and it wasn’t even mean. The subject line read: Fellow Fat Camper. And the content was downright flattering. "I went to camp with you. Do you remember me?… I have read so many of your blog postings and they are GREAT," her email stated. "You are such a talented writer. I will read your book this summer and eagerly await your book about fat camp. I also ran into your camp boyfriend when I lived in Boston. It was great we had alot of fun hanging out. If you get a chance write me back."
There was more to the email, things I won’t reveal out of respect for her identity (shocking: her real name in not Wendy Warner). The email was pleasant, and I was surprised to receive it. How nice to know that people grow up. So, I could respond with similar light pleasantries,perhaps asking what she was up to these days, thanking her so much, so nice to hear from you, my "fellow" fat camper. Or I could be myself.
"So damn sorry it has taken me this long to respond," I wrote, and the rest went like this:
I get into this habit of quickly checking email before bed, planning to respond the next morning. And of course, the next morning I had to race to the doctor’s office with the kids, blah blah. But I’ve been reminding myself about your email, and now, here it is. Of course I remember you… pretty sure you hated me. Like capital H hate. You, Erica, and someone else. Don’t "mean girls" always travel in threes?
You were friendly with Maddy, a girl I knew from home, and I remember thinking, "Yeah, but Maddy likes me, so why don’t you?" But Maddy struck me as a sweet girl who liked talking about getting high and little else. That is to say, she always seemed the type to yes people. "Yes, Wendy’s a bitch," she’d say to me. "Yes, Stephanie’s awful," I imagined she said to others. It’s funny what we remember from our lives. You were kind of a nemesis, and I’m pretty sure I spent at least one night crying because of you. For the life of me, I couldn’t tell you why. Thank God our brains don’t work that way. Clearly, I don’t think these things of you now. Just memories.
I know what you mean about how great it is when you reconnect with others from camp. My boyfriend from that summer and I have always been in touch. He drove eight hours, non-stop, to spend the weekend in the hamptons with me for my 30th birthday. It’s so much fun remembering all of it. What, may I ask, are the things that stick out in your mind when you think of camp, or that summer? I can’t wait to hear back!
I didn’t hear back. I hadn’t even included the part where she’d planned to put cigarette butts in my bed, how I was afraid to sleep at night because she and her friend were planning on cutting off my hair in the middle of the night. I’d never done anything to her or her friends and never understood why they were so mean to me. I get that sometimes you just don’t like someone. You think they’re stuck up, too loud, abrasive, boring, inappropriate. Whatever. But for she and her friends to get up from a table simply because I sat myself at it? I was relieved when I returned the following summer and she wasn’t there. Her boyfriend from that summer, though, was back. We became friends, and he confided, "I never gave you a chance as a person last summer because Wendy poisoned me against you."
I wouldn’t have remembered all these details had I not been brushing up on my camp history via all my old diary entries for MOOSE. Had someone emailed me something similar, I would have responded right away. I would have maybe tried to remember, or at least would have offered some kind of explanation or apology, or even admitted it was all fuzzy to me. Or, no, I thought you hated me! Something. So after not hearing back for weeks, I decided to email her again, asking if she’d ever received it. "Yes, I did," was her three word reply. Perhaps I’d just offended her. "Did I?" I asked in another email.
"No I am not offended," she wrote. "I am sorry that you felt that way. Did you want a longer response?"
I left it there and reminded myself it’s okay if people don’t like you.