Upper Class: Chapter 7| March 21, 2023
“There will be fun scheduled from nine to nine oh seven,”
So I’m going to camp with my sister hating me. That’s just fannntastic.
My eyes feel like they’ve been filled with sand then glued together then pried open with pliers. Yeah, that gory metaphor is exactly where my brain’s at. Yocheved’s not speaking to me after she heard me call Levi crazy, and even Libby and Sima were shocked by my words, but at least they came to say goodbye last night and made me camp packages. I mean, I think throwing a Magna-Tile at my head is a valid reason to call the kid crazy, but I agree that I should have checked if Yocheved was around before spewing words like that.
Ma and Ta drive me to the bus bright and early and I can feel the disapproval emanating in waves.
“’Kay, so bye,” I say weakly.
Ma gives me a look. “Let’s find your friends, sweetheart, and drop off your bags. Then I want to make sure you have a good seat on the bus, and enough snacks for the ride.”
She does? Oh. That’s nice. I instantly feel better. I hug and kiss Ta goodbye; wading into crowds of girls crying and screeching is not exactly his thing. He waits in the car and Ma follows me into the chaos.
I shade my eyes, looking around for Zeesy and Debbi. I don’t see them. My hands grow sweaty; I wipe them on my chambray skirt. Ma squeezes my shoulder. There’s so much noise and calling and shrieking, I’m overwhelmed with a sudden desire to just get back in the car and go home to my quiet house, my cozy room. But home has Yocheved and Levi and judgmental Libby and Sima. No, I want to go to camp. Just only if D—”
“Debbi!” Ma suddenly calls out. “Debbi! Yoo-hoo, over here.”
And I’m so relieved to see them that I don’t even mind Ma yelling “Yoo-hoo” out loud, in public.
We hug and hold on to each other.
“Nervous?” Debbi murmurs in my ear.
“You know it,” I murmur back.
Zeesy grins. “Guys, we are going to have the craziest time. I’m psyyyyycheeeed!”
We shriek. Ma laughs. “If I wasn’t a high school teacher, I’d be seriously concerned about the sounds you girls are making.”
We crack up and then it’s time to say goodbye. I hug Ma, holding on just a moment longer than I usually would.
She doesn’t comment, just tucks a stray hair behind my ear. “Have the best time, Naomi, okay? I love you so much.”
I blink back sudden tears. “Love you too, Ma.”
And then the buses start beeping and it’s time to board.
We sit up front, with the other TCs. I can’t believe we’re actually on our way. Why do I feel like this summer is going to be different from anything I’ve ever experienced before? Debbi, who was gazing out the window in a state of melancholy, turns around and flashes me a huge smile.
“No more being homesick. The fun starts now!”
Zeesy is sitting behind us with Chana Hauser. She leans over and salutes Debbi. “Yes, sir, captain, sir! Fun to be started immediately, sir!”
I crack up, because Debbi is sooo bossy and she needs to chill.
“There will be fun scheduled from nine to nine oh seven,” I say in a deep voice, and we can’t breathe.
Debbi rolls her eyes. “Oh, very mature, young ladies. Real grown up. I think you should be TCs.”
We hiccup ourselves to calm, and Chana is trying to figure out if we’re normal or not.
Spoiler alert: We’re not.
I drift off to sleep and then jerk awake. I keep picturing Yocheved’s white face in my mind, how her eyes grew huge when she heard me call Levi crazy. My eyes close again.
I feel terrible. I feel even worse when I remember how Yocheved drove me to the bus last year, when Ma and Ta were in Eretz Yisrael for a chasunah. We sang in the car at the top of our lungs, and then she thanked me for all the help I give her with Levi.
This year she didn’t even say goodbye….
But honestly, they sprang that babysitting gig on me, I wasn’t prepared for it at all, and there was blood and falling and mud, and it was just like a lot. Not to mention my nerves about camp and friends and getting enough sleep to function. Thank You, Hashem for Sima, that’s for sure.
Too bad she also thinks I’m a terrible person. Oh well, what else is new in my family.
Debbi moans suddenly. “Uch, I’m so nauseous. How much longer till we’re there?”
Zeesy looks at her watch. “Um, like an hour still.”
Debbi turns a delicate shade of green. “Ohmigosh, I’m not going to make it.”
Okay, time for reinforcements.
“Debs,” I say, “you know I brought you motion sickness bands and gum.”
Debbi groans. “I love you. Where?”
I crack open one eye. “Front pocket of my bag.”
She riffles around. “Found it. Thank you! Wait, what’s this?”
She’s holding a tissue paper-wrapped package. Huh? Who stuck that in there?
I take it and my jaw drops. It’s a Tiffany’s heart bracelet and there’s a card. I open it. It’s a scribbled mess of browns and black crayon, over which someone had written, “We’ll miss you Tanta Naomi. We love you.”
I crack open my other eye.
To be continued…
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 954)
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