Joel and I also spent a lot of time reminiscing. We talked about our old high school and our friends from the church youth group. We also talked about New Life Ranch (shudder). Joel and I both spent many summers at that Christian camp named for 2 Corinthians 5:17 (Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.) But our experiences differ significantly.
He tells stories about late nights of skinny dipping at the lake, naked wrestling, and one cabin mate’s attempt to enter the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest amount of time spent…um…enjoying himself. Yes, he remembers weeks in the woods engaging in the rather homoerotic activities of healthy young men.
My experience was very, very different. While he remembers counselors who encouraged rough housing but did try and get the guys to keep their shorts on, I remember Christian teachings and strictly enforced Bible study time, during which there was to be absolute silence. I remember being lectured about the dangers of premarital sex, how good girls did not even kiss until their wedding days, and how anyone with a different religion was not to be trusted. (One counselor believed the Chinese worshipped Buddha and would torture and kill any Christian who entered the country.)
That is not to say I never enjoyed myself at New Life Ranch. I was a rambunctious girl, so a camp in the woods was perfect for me. I insisted on learning everything I could. I spent weeks horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, and even learning to shoot a gun. (I’m from Oklahoma – you think my childhood camp would arm me with a Bible and not a firearm?) I made great friends and together we would spend hours in the lake or camping. Hell, if it weren’t for the religious fundamentalism and scare tactics – I could easily say New Life Ranch was one of the happiest places of my childhood.
Whether thanks to or in spite of New Life Ranch, Joel and I both turned out pretty well. He is doing well in medical school and happily engaged to Aubrae, a woman so perfect for him I couldn’t have picked a better one out of a catalogue. And they already have a nice little family. Together they have a dog named Momma, an adorable mutt who wants constant affection and endless games of fetch. They also recently adopted a kitten, tentatively named Is. She is a little ball of black fur with two huge, cobalt blue eyes and is so tiny she can fit in the palm of your hand. I say “her,” but no one is quite sure yet. So until then, it is called “Is,” short for either Isabella or Isaiah.
We had a great night and then a great morning – the culinary genius Aubrae made the most amazing French Toast I’ve ever had. And then we decided to head to Tulsa for the Fourth of July. Joel’s father still lives in town so we would stay at his house, swim in the pool, and check out the fireworks. So it was back in the car and back on the road for drive to Tulsa.