Tuesday, August 7, 2012


society - noun, adjective

1 .an organized group of persons associated together for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political,patriotic,or other purposes.
2. a body of individuals living as members of a community;community.
13. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of elegant society: asociety photographer.

I've just arrived home after spending three weeks as a course leader at a summer camp. It's been an experience I'll never forget, and I've learned so much about myself, about kids and about the feeling of being part of a community.

For the last three weeks, everything I've experienced, everything I've talked about, everything I've considered real has been related to the same 100-and-some kids and 18 "grownups." A small and closed society with its own particular rules for what's acceptable and unacceptable behavior. The tightly defined hierarchy of power never came close to reflect the "real world" standings of each individual. Most of the inside jokes will never be considered funny by anyone outside, and the logic behind many decisions will never make sense again. In this small gap of time in this particular place, however, it all made perfect sense.

It is an odd crossing between superficial and deep the kind of friendship you build up during a thing like this. Most of the conversations you have are centered around the kids and the kids' welfare. You discuss, you tell and you let off steam, you support and are supported by the others in the team. However, a few days later, none of it matters. What importance does a kid's annoying habits have when the kid is back home, and so are you and your confidante?

On the other hand - you do share your best and worst sides with these people, as you are among them constantly for 3 weeks. A nightly chat til 2 am can make you share information most of your friends don't know. Plus, getting through difficult situations or finding creative solutions for stupid problems makes for shared memories that can also create strong bonds.

During this trip I've twice mentioned a part of my life that I never talk about, a painful and complex memory that in this situation didn't bother me at all to talk about. I've laughed harder than I have in years, most of all from an inappropriate parody of one of the kids. Normally it would  have made me cringe but now it will forever stand as one of the funniest things I've ever seen. I've let myself be talked into playing bowling for the first time (at least since I was 7 or 8) without trying to make up a stupid excuse to get out of it, just for the sake of being friendly and positive around friendly and positive people. I've made a complete fool out of myself several times, and enjoyed it immensely  I've shared some beautiful hours on a wall where I felt like a normal girl sharing normal girl stories with other normal girls. I've laughed, I've cried, I've been really angry and frustrated and I've shared inside jokes (you know what I mean? Sunday, London, Honey? Where is Masha? Are you messing with my life?) that now are just words belonging to a society that no longer exists.

So what now then?

I doubt I'll remember the name of the kids for more than a few weeks. I doubt I'll recognize any of them on the streets in a year. The "grownups," most of whom I've considered friends for the last three weeks...? I doubt I'll see most of these people again. But I know whenever I look at pictures of two handsome men dressed up as girls, of two beautiful girls celebrating their three weeks anniversary as room mates, of colorful superheroes in the sun, or of me smiling like an idiot with my hair full of glow sticks - I'll remember the feeling of being part of an isolated group, unrelated to the rest of the world, and ask myself the all important question: Where is Masha?