Let Me Tell You About My Wife (she doesn’t know I’m writing this)

Day 24/30

On July 8, 1995 the summer before my sophomore year of college I met Leigh Ann Lang.

It was a Saturday and I pulled into the gravel parking lot at the Camp Sumatanga lodge to serve as an elementary camp counselor, under directors Bill, Terry and Larry. I’d been invited by my youth pastor, Jason, who’d known Bill since forever.

I’d only been to Sumatanga once before – for some kind of youth weekend retreat. It wasn’t great. And I didn’t know any better than to judge all camp programs by one camp program. So the first summer, maybe two, that Jason asked, I turned him down.

I made my way to the rocking chairs and there she was, sitting at a makeshift welcome table receiving lost souls and old friends. She was wearing pink overall shorts and a tank top. Her hair was curlier back then. And more blonde.

If you’ve ever been to camp I suppose you remember your first moments. Some, rookies like me don’t know anyone, mill around and do our best to fit in. Most, camp veterans, are overjoyed reuniting with their best friends. Then there are the legends. The folks who first became counselors at age 14 even though they were supposed to be 16. The ones who had the best stories of devil campers and poop in suitcases. The ones who know what happens on the song porch.

Leigh Ann was a legend.

The week went great. I was there with my HS buddy, Shawn. He and I were SGA VP and Pres, respectively. We played football together and lived just down the lake from one another. So we clowned around a lot. And clowning around gives instant credibility at camp. So we fit in quickly.

But not with the legends. They were a harder circle to break.

For that reason, and one other – Jason made me promise to be there for the campers, not the co-eds – I barely talked to Leigh Ann. She was the program director on my hall (almost all of the legends were PD’s) so we talked a little but that’s about it.

After the campers left at the end of the week the counselors went to Gadsden for lunch. But we got split up on the interstate (before cell phones) and that was it. I went home and slept for 17 hours.

A couple weeks later Jason told me Leigh Ann had been asking about me. You heard that right folks. Leigh Ann. Asking. About. Me.

Jason also told me she’d be helping with Terry’s VBS the next week and asked if I wanted to go. I did. And that turned into her coming down to the lake a couple weeks later. My granddaddy (from Day 12/30), who opened up the hardware store every morning but went home for lunch and a nap around 9:30, hung around until mid-afternoon that day just to meet her.

We spent the weekend skiing and eating soggy oatmeal cookies in the boat. Saturday night we drove the boat to the Alex City side of the lake for dinner at Jason’s dad’s. On the way home I stopped the boat and asked if I could kiss her. (I’d gotten over my fear from Day 16/30). I can just about replay that whole weekend in my head. I am actually.

Two years later I drove her to that same spot on the lake and asked her if she’d marry me.

This blog could get really long with all the stories I could tell. Like the time I had mono and her folks told her not to go to Dadeville – I can still remember seeing that old POS silver Mustang pulling down the driveway. Or the time my roommate, Steve, and I came home to the trailer, smelled smoke, and found her smoking a cigar in a bubble bath. Or the time she went back to school to become a teacher to support my preaching habit and crushed it. Or the time she left teaching to venture out into realty and crushed that too. (Insert shameless if-you’re-in-the-market-for-a-home plug)

Since July 8, 1995 we’ve been back to camp countless times, recruited dozens of counselors and have our own stories of poop in suitcases. Most of our best friends are Camp Sumatanga friends.

Leigh Ann’s a great mom, a great friend, a great everything. And no 30 day blog challenge would be complete without me telling y’all.

She’s a legend.

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