Kids from the New York tri-state area crammed into back seats of family cars for the annual summer pilgrimage to Catskill Mountain bungalow colonies. The mostly family owned “resorts” swelled with middle class Jewish families seeking relief from brutal summer city temperatures. Siblings interlocked like hand-crafted puzzle pieces to make room for supermarket cardboard boxes packed with sheets, and pots.  Dented cartons were the containers used to transport  household necessities  to recreate the comforts of home in tiny rented summer cottages.

Catskill Mountain bungalow colony

Arriving safely, without being  harnessed by seatbelts, the soundtrack for the hours long drive was “Are we there yet?” At least one of my three siblings always fell asleep, at least one of us got car sick, and all of us annoyed my parents with our incessant chatter. Notwithstanding, the journey, my family rejoiced in spending summers in the country.

“Tighten Up” by Archie Bell and the Drells was number one on the charts in the summer of 1967 when I learned to dance. I was eleven. My mother, two sisters, baby brother and I left for the months of July and August, leaving my dad home alone to fend for himself with two towels, a box of cereal, a container of milk, and all the quiet of an empty house. In our own way, each of us experienced an uncomplicated carefree vacation.

Dad’s Chair

Our childhoods unfolded in the ten years my family spent summers upstate. My sisters and I learned to swim, shoot archery, and play volleyball there, things we would have never learned in Brooklyn. In between playing sports and roasting marshmallows at campfires, I came face to face with my newly developing feminine wiles.

Summer fun, roasting marshmellows

    And Now What

Little girl becomes a woman

I also learned to talk, or not talk to boys. Learning to flirt was a big part of my summertime experience.

Two Teenage Couples Learning About Love

The short window between day camp ending, and being called home for dinner found all the emotionally reluctant boys, and curious girls hanging out together in the enormous bungalow colony clubhouse. Late afternoon sunlight created the illusion of nighttime, and made us feel like grown-ups.

The Music We Loved

Girls sprawled across the jukebox listening to Mony Mony by Tommy James & The Shondells, and music by the Boxtops; sometimes we fed the machine a quarter to play a wistful Lovin’ Spoonful song. Girls encamped on one side of the room, boys staked out on the other, pretending not to notice each other.

Painfully Obvious

Boys thrusted their hips against mighty pinball machines, fervently pressing flippers in hopes of influencing the balls trajectory, questing to win a free game, and earning bragging rights.  Day after day, week after week, pre-teen boys and girls fumbled through being together, desperate to conceal painfully obvious crushes.

Drum majorette inside a classic pinball machine

Many evenings after all the kids had been fed, the wistful  husbandless moms met to play mah-jongg or Canasta. My sisters and I would promise our mom that we would watch our younger brother, but we esentially ignored him, and spent the evening listening to the playlist of a New York top 40 station with a barely audible signal. We swatted mosquitos, ate ice cream, and practiced dancing, thinking about  standing next to a cute boy at  flagpole assembly the next morning. My sisters and I fell asleep listening to the sound of chirping crickets, and left the door unlocked for my mom. Boys too young to shave, whose voices were just starting to sound more like their father’s than their mother’s awkwardly spent the  summer getting to know  girls who were just starting  to shave their legs. We weren’t really friends, and we didn’t know how to be anything else to each other. Just as a newborn foal is determined to stand up and walk on its own, it was inevitable that  our clumsy interaction would lead to learning something about the opposite sex. These summers were my primer for boy meets girl, and what to do, or not do. They were the summers of love…


Daycamp Crush

Boy on Girl

The date of my wedding was August 18th. I signed divorce papers twelve years later, almost to the day. Signing those documents during the summer annihilated the innocence I once associated with carefree warm weather months.

Sitting in a blur

Jill and daughters outside Santa Monica house, newly divorced.

As a divorced mother of three I again faced figuring out how to navigate and integrate with the opposite sex. Faintly recalling memories of sweet summer love and innocent crushes, I struggled to recover from the loss and betrayal connected to my divorce, and wondered if adult intimate relationships would always and forever cause me pain.

With my innocence about love blown to smithereens, I was knee deep in confusion, remorse, dark humor, shame, and sometimes anger. My clumsy adult interactions with the opposite sex still sometimes leave me feeling as naive as when I was eleven. Damn It…

Jill in heels

I’ve been on blind dates wishing at the start that I wouldn’t feel terrible about myself if I introduced myself as Jill’s twin, saying she had suddenly been called out of town. A stab at on-line dating found me reading emails from men (on two separate occasions) who felt compelled to let me know that they thought my face was “so skinny” they would never date me. One evening when leaving an event, I ran into a guy I casually knew and asked him if he would like to get a drink. I was sure I wasn’t inviting him on a date, but he interpreted that question differently. He ordered two drinks and something to eat. I sipped a single malt scotch and picked at the shared order of fries. When the check came I said I had no cash. Before I could finish the sentence he too said he had none. I let him know that I was sure the waiter could put half on each of our cards. “You don’t seem to understand, he said, I don’t have any money, and I don’t have a credit card. I don’t leave my house with money. You invited me out, so I assumed you’d pay.” Knowing in that instant that I would never intentionally see him again, I paid the check, and left.

The Wind is Up

One night out with a group of friends, I was seated next to an attractive guy.  Shortly after the meal began I got a text saying “Will you go to dinner with me sometime?” It was sent by the same man sitting right next to me. I turned to him letting him know I would prefer if he actually asked me personally. More than a decade my junior I knew from this interaction that we did things differently. He never asked me again.

Love in the Foreground

And when another man I briefly went out with, more than ten years my junior asked if we shouldn’t consider seeing each other until someone better or more appropriate came along, I  again knew that I would prefer to date someone closer to my own age. After an absence of many months I recently ran into him at an event, where he made sure to tell me he was seeing someone. Hmmm. I’m sure my mother would have an expression for him in Yiddish. And although lost in translation, the guttural sound of the idiom would suggest that he should grow like an onion with his head in the ground.

True Colors

And then there are the married men who think no one will find out. The ones who casually suggest some kind of interlude, tryst, affair… I’m not sure why they ask me, maybe it’s my “bedroom eyes”, or my just got out of bed hairstyle, but I’m not interested in salacious, can’t be seen together in public sorts of clandestine relationships,and I never say yes.

Blinded hotel

Recently one of the most handsome men I’ve ever met, also many years my junior handed me his card and TOLD me to text him. I was flattered, but speechless.  He didn’t ask me, it was a command. Presumably innocent on his part, my past experience with demanding men immediately triggered fear and foretold of what an interaction with him might be like.  His cavalier swagger was a harbinger of what was to come.

Dark Room

He told me not to tell anyone about us. There was no us, but that didn’t stop me from wondering if he was married, or was there some other reason why he wanted to keep this encounter a secret?  He was very tall, with a beautiful mixed race complexion, and was so incredibly handsome, but what did I already know about him? I knew that he was commanding, which in my mind translates immediately into adamant, forceful and demanding. Given his insistent and secretive nature, I knew that despite any desire I might have felt, it wouldn’t be in my best interest to contact him.

Always Next Summer

It doesn’t end there… I could retell other encounters of the ill-fated attention I have received from the opposite sex, but I think my entanglements of boy meets girl are amply clear. But there’s always next summer.

Golden Dream -Pedro Ruiz

“Your task is not to search for love but to find a portal through which love can enter.” – Eckhart Tolle

…Hey, I just met you,

And this is crazy,

But here’s my number,

So call me, maybe?

And all the other boys,

Try to chase me,

But here’s my number,

So call me, maybe?

Before you came into my life

I missed you so bad

I missed you so bad

I missed you so, so bad

Before you came into my life

I missed you so bad

And you should know that

I missed you so, so bad…

Carly Rae Jepson – CALL ME MAYBE

RAW REFLECTION: I chose not to contact the man that commanded me to text him. As I drove through afternoon traffic that day I wondered what it might have been like if I had. What would you have done?

To read about my past relationship with a very controlling man please see –