Letter to Camille: 117 Months

Happy 117 months, sweet girl! My talented violist. My reality TV show star.

We’ve had a lot going on this past month – where to start?

When last I wrote to you, we were beginning our 3 week stay in Savannah, which involved you being in a wedding, a TV show, and inside several potential new houses.

About that last part.

While we were in Savannah we signed the paperwork allowing our renters to stay in our house for another year or more, and officially started the hunt for a new Savannah home. Our plan is to buy another house while keeping our old one as a rental investment.

You do not like this plan.

Our home in Savannah is the only one you’ve ever known (until this move to Costa Rica). Your Daddy and I have wanted something different for some time, but not you. Home is home. You love your lavender room with the owl stickers on the wall, and you’re upset that it is the office of a priest for the foreseeable future. The church across the street is renting our house, and you don’t like that our living room is the new place for catechism classes. That’s your living room.

What you cannot fathom, and what seems to you like a grave injustice, is that YOU are one of the big reasons we’re looking to make a move. There are indeed a lot of great things about that old house, but we are longing for a home that gives you more freedom and independence. We want a home that is farther from busy streets and quadriplex apartments with nameless neighbors – a home where you can ride your bike alone or walk to a friend’s house. A home with a big yard and a big neighborhood for exploring – not weekends confined to the square of grass guarded by our privacy fence. We want some space to breathe. For all of us.

But you just want your old house back. These decisions are not easy for us – every home and every neighborhood has pros and cons. And we haven’t found the right house yet. But just as we were telling you this time last year when talking about coming to Costa Rica – home is wherever we are together. And I have faith that in time, our next house will feel like home to you too.

While the house hunt took up a lot of mental real estate, there were plenty of other happenings too. For the first time in years we were able to make it to the Easter family gathering in Moultrie with your Daddy’s extended family.

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This always involves a much anticipated Easter egg hunt, including cash-filled prize eggs. But this year was the first year we could remember when it POURED rain on Easter day.

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This didn’t stop you and the cousins though, who happily splashed about the yard, finding eggs. The Easter bunny piñata had to be moved to the porch, and I love that your weapon of choice was not a baseball bat or a broomstick, but a big umbrella. Very appropriate.

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Another major event for you was participating in my cousin Emmie’s wedding. Emmie lived in Savannah when you were very young, and was a frequent babysitter. You adore her, and were thrilled when she asked you to be a junior bridesmaid.

The day of the wedding, Emmie had kimono-style robes for her wedding party, and you felt very fancy. Then it was time to trade the kimonos for your gorgeous dress and even some high-heeled shoes, which made you feel very grown up. It was a special day for many reasons, and I’m so happy you could be part of it.

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Aside from your “performance” at the wedding, you had two other major performances this month.

One was back in Costa Rica after spring break, when your school held a Talent Show. You’d been practicing your viola song “Gypsy Fantastic” for months, and were thrilled to pass the audition.

The day of the talent show, you had a dress rehearsal at school. You didn’t know, however, that the dress rehearsal would be performed for the entire student body. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to see it, but you say the song went well and you got an embarrassingly large number of congratulations afterward.

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The night of the talent show, you were nervous as you took the stage – one of the few solo acts in the whole show. You began beautifully, but about halfway through the song stumbled on a run of notes. You knew it, I knew and your Daddy knew it, because we’ve all heard the song a million times. But I don’t think the crowd knew it. Your Daddy and I held our breaths though, because we could see in the stiffness of your posture that you weren’t happy. You ended the piece early, but you ended it strong, and even took a little bow to a roar of applause before walking off stage. But you were very upset with yourself.

Oh I know how hard it is not to be perfect when you want to be perfect. When you’re on stage and all eyes are on you. But I love how your friends – how our whole community – encouraged and supported you. It’s hard to be down on yourself with so many people lifting you up. You really did play beautifully, even if not as perfectly as you’d hoped.

Finally, you also had an opportunity to perform in Savannah and in Costa Rica when we participated in filming a reality TV show. I can’t write much about it now – but I can say that you are officially a paid actor.

Not that the show paid you – but because of a Mommy and Daddy bribe.

You really wanted our family to be chosen for the TV show, but once we were and you realized how much time we’d have to spend taping, your enthusiasm waned. Greatly.

I knew that if you spent most of your time on camera looking bored or rolling your eyes, your scenes would be left on the cutting room floor. And I really wanted you to be part of it. So finally, we told you that even if you weren’t in the mood to film, you were an actor so you needed to act like it. And if you would do that for us, we’d pay you a small acting fee.

You perked up considerably.

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I did have to threaten to withdraw the fee several times. Once, here in Costa Rica, you were surfing for the camera. The two of us were in the water, mercifully away from the microphones because we were arguing about the waves. You thought I was taking you out too deep where the waves were too big. But I knew the waves you wanted were too small and too spent to actually hold you up. I let you try a couple to prove my point, and you repeatedly fell off the board, resurfacing almost in hysterics.

Then I snapped. “I know you don’t feel like surfing right now and you don’t like these waves. But you are a PAID actor and I need you to get on that board and I need you to surf. And ACT like it’s fun.”

And thankfully, you stood up on the board and surfed a wave that cut right in front of the camera, backlit by a gorgeous sunset. And I smiled and cheered and ACTED like we hadn’t both nearly added our salty tears to the seawater just moments before.

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But now that the show is done, you’re already planning all the ways you’re going to spend your hard-earned money. And you’re lamenting the fact that the crew had to leave. You were completely and totally charmed by the sound technician, who treated you like a grown up and explained his equipment to you, even letting you wear his headphones and instructing Lee and me to march around whispering jokes into our microphones only for you to hear.

You decided that when you grow up, you want to be a marine biologist and a sound technician. And listen to whales.

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And when it was time to wrap the show, you had handmade gifts for the whole crew. And then you sobbed all night because you wouldn’t see the sound tech or the director again.

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Oh my tender-hearted girl. My funny, silly, sometimes crabby actor. My musician. My sweetheart.

I love you so.

One Comment on “Letter to Camille: 117 Months

  1. Camille, you are so precious. I have enjoyed watching you grow and mature through your “Letters”. May God continue to bless you and your family. With much love; Your Cousin, Mercena Landers (Your Great Aunt Sarah’s youngest daughter)

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