The Mud Pit

(Originally posted on the Body Joy Project blog.)

They dug it out past the crops, not far from the field of sunflowers. It was only a few feet deep, but it was big. About the size of a public pool. We watched, mesmerized as the water and dirt swirled together. Two hoses on full blast and still, it was taking forever. We’d been watching them dig all week and they promised it would be ready today. We’d been in our swimsuits since the morning.

Reluctantly, we left to eat lunch and do our afternoon chores. I remember standing on a step stool in the kitchen kneading dough in my swimsuit and tennis shoes. I would have worn that outfit anywhere. I was ten years old and confident. The idea of hating my body had not yet entered my world. I hadn’t even spent much time thinking about my body other than seeing what it could do. I was too busy living in it.

Eventually, someone ran into the kitchen screaming, “It’s ready! It’s ready!” So was I. This wasn’t my first time at camp, but it was my first mud pit and I couldn’t wait to get in.

The mud was thick, and warmer than I thought it would be. I could feel tiny bits of dried grass and rocks between my toes. I walked around a bit with it up to my thighs, dragging my fingers through the surface of the mud as I walked. Slowly, I lowered my whole body into the mud. I lay on my back and was instantly floating. With my head back and my ears under the mud, everything was silent. I was looking up at the clouds slowly drifting all alone in a warm sea. It felt like the whole mud pit had been made just for me.

At the same time, I felt so connected to the people around me. I saw my friends and camp counselors in a completely new way. They were beautiful. Alive and free and messy and perfect. My interest in everyone around me grew. They liked this just as much as I did. What else did we have in common? What else were they capable of?

I remember all of us looking at each other in awe, laughing, and trying different things. One person would shout out “hey you guys – try running” and we’d all fall over trying to run. We’d get out and hose each other off, squealing in delight as our skin beneath the mud was revealed. I would get as clean as I could just so I could see myself transform again as I got back into the mud.

That experience opened something up inside of me. I saw the work it took to make it possible. I saw my counselors and the owners of the camp spend days digging that pit. They had made a special place for all of us to get messy. The possibilities of what I believed a person could be were changing. Lying in bed that night, falling asleep, my breaths were deeper and I felt bigger on the inside.


Date: Sun, 30 Aug 2009 2:12PM

Subject: i HATE camp

Mom, everyone here is stupid. Really. I am not overacting. I HATE CAMP.  Please please please please please come and get me! Please dont say you have to ask dad. Dad always says no. My cabin is so far from the game center and I am on a BOTTOM bunk. It sucks. I am sorry to say it sucks but its true. I cant believe you actually paid for me to come here it is torture. The boys in my cabin are imature and crazy. This boy named Carlos said Harry Potter is gay and if you like Harry Potter it means you are gay. Can u believe it? The worst is this hillbilly kid named David. He is the dumest person I have ever met. He is a bully with red hair and he thinks he is so cool because he is 12 already. We hiked to eel river today and David pushed me in the water and my towel got soking wet and he just laughed at me and I told my counselor Jacob and he said it was just an accidint but it wasnt. So I yelled that it wasnt and I got a time out. Can u believe it? I cant believe it. I didnt even get to go in the water for yelling. I just had to sit there and throw rocks in the river. Then I told Jacob I was hungry and he said I could have lunch but no ice cream and David was laughing at me again and calling me crybaby crybaby. Mom I sware I was not even crying! Its not fair he pushed me and still got ice cream and today it was rocky road and I didnt get any and I hate it here. I want to go home and be with you. I love you mom. You are the nicest prettyest mom ever. Can I come home please? Say yes.

Love, your son, Kyle


Date: Sun, 30 Aug 2009 2:33PM

Subject: nevermind

Mom guess what! U remember that kid David? He got in trouble because he called John Kim a kimchi and then he got stung by a bee in the FACE!!! Everyone was laughing. Isnt that great? I am so happy! love, Kyle