Past and present collapsed together and I could hear the rain drumming on the roof of the old lodge as it had the night we met.
The campers wouldn't arrive for three days, but my first staff week was in full swing when we gathered for the first of many lectures on keeping campers safe from all the dangers that could befall them in the eight weeks that they would be under our charge.
The floor was wet and the room quickly took on the soft, sweet smell of rain. It was the smell of camp. Of wildness and freedom. Of cabins and fields and the tiny town in Northern Ontario.
My friends and I stood together in the back, mostly ignoring the guy droning on about bear safety.
"I hope someone's taking notes because I'm too drunk to remember any of this."
I snorted out a laugh and turned towards the tall, blond stranger leaning against the wall.
The whistle hanging out of his pocket said sports staff and the yeasty scent of beer on his breath when he introduced himself told me that he had gone with the specialty staff to lunch in town while the rest of us did counselor things.
I found that hint of beer strangely appealing as we whispered through the rest of the lecture and felt myself drawn towards him, even as we parted ways.
He was on my mind as I got ready for bed, and when he sent me a crooked smile from across the dining hall the next morning I felt a jolt from my stomach straight down to my toes.
He found me as we listened to yet another lecture later that night and it seemed natural that we would drift together when the program ended and that he would take my hand as we meandered around the track and up Girl's Hill, talking about everything and nothing.
We fell silent as we reached the stairs in front of my cabin, and the air hummed with electricity when we turned towards each other. There was a single beat of hesitation and then he kissed me in the shadow of the spot where I had my first kiss years before.
This time wasn't that one, but it was a first all the same.
My eighteen year old heart pounded as his hands slicked up my sides and tangled in my hair, our bodies pressed together. When we broke apart I could only stare at him, slightly stunned. He kissed me again, hot and fast, and then smiled his smile before turning and walking away. Not sure my legs would hold me up, I sat right down on the steps and watched him go, hand pressed to my speeding heart.
My office phone rang, tugging me back to the present.
I took one last look at the picture, smiled at him and his little boy, and answered the call, thinking how the light smell of beer still gets me, every single time.