Saturday, February 21, 2009

the melodies remain

Driving home from Columbus last week a jolt of recognition released a flood of memories when we passed the green highway sign for a small town in Indiana - home of the Jewish overnight camp I attended for a few summers 20-25 (wha?!) or so years ago. First and foremost, songs came to mind - haunting melodies and hebrew lyrics that I've long since forgotten the translations to, if I ever knew them in the first place.

All of these years later, I can clearly envision sitting around a campfire and singing freely into the night, and so many other small impressions wander back...the way sparks from the fire would shoot up into the sky then disappear, linking arms with the girl (or boy!) next to me and swaying from left to right, slowly, with each song...the SMELL, of course, of fire and pine and summer and Calamine lotion. Remember?

There were a few English songs too, ones that I didn't necessarily understand the words of, but whose melancholy, minor key melodies introduced tragedies I'd not yet encountered. Probably didn't understand the notion of 'tragedy' even, age 11ish. But still, the songs stuck.

And have been playing in my head, on a loop, for days now. The camp has a website, which I spent about thirty seconds on before quickly navigating away. The songs are findable as YouTube videos from Jewish folk festivals and other various group singalongs (none of which hold a candle to the campfire sessions) But I have no desire to find any of this on the interwebs... it seems all wrong to encounter these memories again through poor graphic design and others' experiences that seem to barely relate to mine.

I'd prefer to savor the wisps and verses that still exist somewhere deep in my brain, and let them wash over and take me back to the days of reluctantly dressing up for the Shabbat Walk, inventing excuses to skip swimming lessons, traversing the length of the dining room for bug juice refills, and playing jacks on the concrete deck outside the canteen. I'd rather marvel at how embedded all of this remains, how easy it was to tap into, how sad it still feels to hear those songs in my mind's ears, and how nice it feels to let the memories swell.

[So many boucy balls lost each summer...]


Mark Schoneveld said...

Speaking of Columbia, you going to be at True/False this weekend? :)

shapiro said...

damn straight i am! see you there?!!