Thursday, July 24, 2008

Post-reunion ruminations

This week I flew down to LA sort of on a whim (if planning this two weeks in advance counts as a whim) to attend the 20th reunion of my last year as a camper at the summer camp where I spent seven years of my childhood and then three years as a counselor in my working, late teenage life. My one friend that I'm still in touch with (who I went to college with incidentally) convinced me to go and I have to say that I'm so glad I did. It was fabulous. I hadn't seen most of these people since I was 14 and as they started to show up (we were one of the firsts there so we could walk around and look at the camp before dinner) we'd have a brief moment of panic (who the hell is that!?) but then we were transformed into teenagers and we'd run and jump on each other in a spastic bear hug frenzy. And thankfully name tags were soon passed around. I get annoyed when no one remembers me because I remember everyone - name tags eliminated this problem.

So we talked all night and sang our old stupid songs. Everyone was doing well. Advancing in their careers, making babies etc. This camp is a really special place and I remember that as a kid, at the end of the session (which was nearly four weeks), I'd go home and just be totally withdrawn for days, sometimes weeks after. Not really sure what to do with myself. There was no email so I couldn't really be in touch with my friends. No one had cell phones and calling LA from Orange County was long distance....It was a terrible loneliness. We all felt it. We totally lived for camp. And even though my parents would come up for visitor's day and have lunch and sing some songs, they couldn't really GET what I'd been through.

So when I flew home at the crack of dawn on Wednesday morning I figured I was just exhausted from staying up late chatting with my friend and then catching a 5:15 am shuttle to LAX. I had a headache all day and I was crabby. But then I slept 8 hours and was still grouchy. And it finally occurred to me that I was campsick - that same feeling I'd had so many times as a kid leaving camp. And no one in my current life understands either. My husband never went to camp - not like this one anyway. I took him up there a few years ago for a shabbat dinner so he could experience all of the singing and chaos. He loved it. But it didn't give him the depth of experience that spending ten summers of your life does.

At least now I don't have to rely on letter-writing to stay in touch. Enter...FACEBOOK! Suddenly everyone and their dog is coming out of the woodwork and I am now connected to half the mid-thirties Jewish population of the Greater Los Angeles area. and we're all looking forward to our 30th reunion when our kids are at camp together singing their own songs.


Everything's Rosie said...

I loved your blog and contrary to what you think, I had the same camp sickness as you every year that I went to camp (11 years.) In those days we would write letters to each other and wait a few weeks until we heard back from our friends. I know, for sure, that my parents really didn't understand as they had never been fortunate enough to have these wonderful experiences. You are really lucky, though, and should relish in your sadness and camp sickness; there's nothing like it. Maybe now you can understand how I always felt coming home from my yearly Kallah trip to Santa Cruz. Shabbat in the hills of Santa Cruz, singing Debbie Friedman camp songs, although only for 4 days was like an entire summer away. The highs were as high as my summer experiences at camp, with friends, and when I would leave to go home, I was just sick. Sick for days wanting to be back there. So I really do understand what you're going through now but had no idea when I've spoken to you the last few days that you, too, have had the camp sickness. Love and then some...