Polaroid Memory

The following I wrote in an effort to find sleep after finishing Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. In the first few chapters she suggests writing of childhood. Since I am still a child, I have years of material to pull clearly from. I had taken a trip to France the summer before freshman year and stayed for eight weeks. During one of those weeks My cousin brought me along to a church camp in Switzerland.


It wasn’t cold, surprisingly. Summer by the snowy mountainside had granted the privilege of soft, cool humidity, making the team task of dish washing less insufferable. We had eaten our lunches before anyone had come into the lunch hall, entering into a makeshift boiler room where all the dirty dishes were held. A sweet older Swiss woman greeted us, assigning us to different stations (one of which I can no longer recall but I imagine had something to do with organizing). I was given the duty of washing and drying whatever dishes came by. I kept my mouth shut while the rest of my team joked around with each other while completing our task, a flood of dirty dishes descending down their miniature elevator in quick increments.  I hadn’t spoken for so long that I began to feel my throat swell up permanently until the older woman turned to me and asked my name.

“Kirsten,” I said affirmatively, my shoulders instinctively rolling back with pride. Her face broke out into the widest and most cherub like of smiles.

“What a wonderful name! My nephews name is Kirst.” The name is male supposedly, and I had never heard anything like it. She began gushing over her dear nephew in a way I couldn’t help but smile at because she’d been the second person in my three months of solitude that my name and presence had provided pure joy to.

The other person had been a month before during another forced camping trip. His name was Adrien, mixed Danish and African and the eye of my cousin’s affections. I would tease Edna about him constantly, but I wholly understood her infatuation—hazel eyes, smooth skin, and a devilishly kind smile. He spoke fluent English—he was one of the few campers that did—so he felt like a saving grace. His only flaw was that he smoked weed the way Mafia gangsters smoked cigars and it had been causing a rift in his family as of late. 

At the introduction of my name he had told me that my name was danish (I was already perfectly aware of its Germanic nature but I ate up the compliment ravenously) which he loved because he was danish. I shot an onslaught of questions about his background, all of which slip my mind now, before he was pulled away into a rugby game. The ball was blue and white and rubbery and I was wholly confused by the sight of it. They ran across the wide, open clearing tossing the ball back and forth, offering now and again for me to join for me to decline and quickly retreat to the side away from the commotion. My eyes remained on Adrien still. We’d bonded so quickly over so little, I couldn’t help but want to kiss him as a form of compassion, of thank you, of a possibility of the romanticized future of summertime romance that has never been in reach.

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