…they sat down, ordered a beer and started reminiscing on the good ole days.
This was last weekend for me, at the wedding of one of my dearest and oldest camp friends. Camp Green Cove has connected me with the most extraordinary people on earth. We come from different walks of life and wear different labels. But we are blind to labels, we only see the exquisite person underneath.
We have so many labels that define us, whether self or society inflicted. My time at Green Cove stripped away all labels. There was no fat/thin, black/white, Jewish/Christian, gay/straight. We were all kids, loving life and loving each other no matter how different we were because we really didn’t even know we were considered different. I was probably 17 before I realized my best friend was Jewish. After that, the two of us would stay up for hours talking about Catholicism, Judaism and the meaning of life in general.
This past weekend was a beautiful reminder of what life can be like when we forget the labels and just be. After the fantastic welcome party in downtown Asheville, a group of us walked to another bar. Some straight, some gay and some transgender. We sat at a table, met partners and shared life stories. The next day was much of the same: laughter, rosé, new and old friends.
Alden and Olivia’s ceremony was the most beautiful and unique wedding I have ever witnessed. The heavens literally opened up, rain poured down, but the mood was not dampened. The entire wedding danced the night away and toasted to the beautiful couple.
What really left a mark on me was the post wedding day activity: tubing down the French Broad. Everyone met in the parking lot with excitement (and post wedding headaches). We laughed at previous night shenanigans, lathered up with sunscreen and rented our tubes.
As we plopped oh so elegantly into the river, there was one topic I never heard: fat talk. There was not a single mention about body parts. No “I’m so fat” or “OMG my muffin top”. Nothing. It was body silent – just laughter and belly laughs at everyone’s float mount.
The Green Cove tribe tied our tubes together for our slow float down the river. In the two hour float, not a single minute was passed in silence or talking about bodies. I was blown away, but not shocked.
I would not be here today without Camp Green Cove. It was my sanctuary every summer. It was the one place where I could really be me: witty, empathetic, goofy, sensitive and kind. No one ever picked apart my body at camp and there were no body competitions. Diet talk and fat talk simply did not exist when you entered the Blue Ridge Mountains.
As I dismounted my float (actually, I ended up floating in the tiny cooler float because my float hit a rock…shocking, I know), I smiled. Well, I smiled because I just spent the last hour in the world’s smallest float, but mostly I smiled because I was back with my tribe. My people. My place in the world where it doesn’t matter if my belly rolls when I sit or if I say something silly. A place where I get to meet the most incredible people and reunite with my favorites.
We are all who we are. Some of us have more bruises and scars in the journey of self-discovery. Some of us have endured ridicule and bullying for our sexual orientation. Some of us have destroyed our bodies only to build them back up again. At the end of the day, when we reunite, we are still the kids who climbed the mountains without fat talk, laughed without labels and loved without boundaries.
May all of us aspire to be Green Cove girls – to love one another in a world filled with so much dark. May our light and love shine outward. May we never judge based on labels. May we always be kind to one another. And above all else, may we always be kind to ourselves.
It doesn’t matter what label you wear at the bar or in life…as long as you wear it with pride and love. Because at the end of the day, we all know this one simple truth…
LOVE (always, always) WINS.