~summer shorts~ striking out

a scrap of green t-shirt sleeve, followed by the brim of a floppy, khaki hat wobble out from near the front of the line of campers, the one glimpse i’ve caught of quinn on his very first sleepaway camp experience. the t.a. and videographer is bringing up the rear behind the six campers attending Paleontology Explorers: Oregon, and after they take a few steps, the camera pans over the white tufts of beargrass flocking a stark high elevation flatland studded with snags spearing the sapphire sky, an inverted green bunting of young conifer triangles painted across its mid-section.

he is up front behind the leader, hopefully too out of breath to be talking her ear off. the group is already cohesive, one entity moving with brisk purpose in an intentional direction toward a common goal. the sense of anticipation, ownership, and belonging seem palpable, even through the filtered lens of an instagram feed. the one other boy on the trip, D from L.A., is at quinn’s heels, the four young women comprising the rest of the group of six campers marching along in step. i think i spot the one he first introduced himself to, R from california, who, like quinn, has a dinosaur pillowcase. shedding her NASA sweatshirt as they team-carried gear to the van, she revealed her next layer of a harry potter t-shirt. As quinn and D carried either end of a duffel, i overheard a snippet of conversation about “ender pearls,” and i felt it all sinking in – these were quinn’s people. this was him finding a few more of his tribe. The other ones for whom dinosaurs were not something they grew out of, nor got over. the other ones who may possibly be more proud of achieving a grade point average of 3.14 than one of 4.0. the other ones who might see HGTV through the lens of house flipping to afford more expeditions and more plaster. the other ones whose bed stickers may have been classified at age 6 into jurassic and cretaceous species. The other ones whose parents stood around awkwardly at camp drop-off trying not to let on how relieved they were that our kids are finally finding one another.

somewhere in the eastern cascades, a boy is laying his head on his dinosaur pillowcase, among a pack of campers each with their own heads on their own dinosaur pillowcases, out in a big world doing his thing.




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