I hope you’ve been enjoying your summers and are gearing up for a fantastic year ahead of us. For the past eight weeks I’ve been working at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, completing my third summer on staff, and tenth consecutive summer at camp. It’s my home away from home, and that has not been given due justice on this blog. Well, at any rate, my anecdotes have in fact stepped foot on the holy ground of Wingdale, NY, as I retold these tidbits of my life to my campers as a rainy day harga’ah (story time, although literally meaning “calming down”). Granted that words from the wise about college lifestyles may not have the same effect on rising high school students as on the majority of my readers, I’ve hopefully garnered some loyal blog followers who will simply be prepared for future casual stumbling blocks.
Last year at this time (one year anniversary-woo!), I was in deep self-reflection leading up to Yom Kippur, which I referred to as cheshbon nefesh. However this soul-searching was inextricably tied to my adjustment to college and clearing my slate at the beginning of freshman year. This year I’d like to focus more on my experience this summer-on seeing double.
I’ll confess. This year in school, I did not do all of the reading I was supposed to complete. I know. This news is absolutely shell-shocking and ground-breaking material. No regrets, but nonetheless, the pages of reading that I did get to are simply innumerable, and thus my vision has slightly declined. Only slightly though, no worries. You’ll see where I’m going with this.
A couple of weeks ago, on one of my days off from camp, I went to the optometrist to be tested for a new prescription. One of the measurements the doctor took required me to notice when two images merged and overlapped, and vice versa, when one image split into two separate entities. The rest of the tests went fine and I headed back to camp, but the thought of that part of the exam loomed over me.
I know I’m kind of a corny person and this metaphor is somewhat far-fetched, but bear with me. This summer, I’ve been struggling with seeing two separate entities within myself; Hannah that has grown up at camp and Hannah that exists in post-high school contexts (Nativ and onward). I all-too-often experienced the incredible phenomenon to be in a room with both someone who knows you as a gregarious, goofy, and grounded person and someone who sees you as a only-speaks-when-spoken-to/ someone with a (no offense to the food-allergic folk and my ashkenazic heritage) pareve, gluten-free, passidic (non-gebrokts and no kitniyot) personality. Okay, so maybe that’s enough of the dramatics, but it is difficult to be who you want to be in a place that doesn’t promote or condone change. Don’t get me wrong, I will always love camp, but my biggest frustrations this summer were when I saw my fellow staff members as well as my campers relaxing for the summer and being the crazy, no-filter people they never felt comfortable being during the year.
Epiphany: I learned how to be the way I am now from the people I love at camp, but I for some reason could never be that person when I was there.
Ok, so maybe this isn’t an epiphany, rather a clarification or reiteration. But now that you’ve read some of my raw and vulnerable reflections of my summer, you might understand why thinking about this constantly may trump a post of my campers’ ridiculous isms. Fine. Perhaps that would merit its own post.
To top it all off, the ultimate clash of my worlds took place over the 5-day “Sababa” elective trip to the Brandeis Bima (Theater/Visual Arts) program. One of the highlights of the trip most definitely was having the kids run shenanigans around campus, but it was an undeniably glorious and funny experience for all to see me in my “natural habitat.” A real bed, wi-fi, and Starbucks honestly didn’t hurt either.
So with that, I’ll close wishing you all the best this coming year and that you keep following to hear about the unexpected insight I’ll pick up along my way. Snaps to all of you guys for being fantastic listeners.
Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova-Happy New Year!
Hannah Zahava Kober