I’ve been at summer camp. Camp Wappalane is a sleep-away camp in Stokes State Forest in Sussex County, NJ. Things I like there: riflery, archery, swimming, canoeing, my bunk, getting care packages filled with pistachio nuts and red licorice. Things I don’t like that much: geology, swimming in cold water, being homesick.
I’m on my way home. The feeling of being ‘away’ is new for me and especially being away alone. The long ride down Route 80 is strange and filled with anticipation. It’s thick and boiling in suburban Millburn. We come down the block and I’m filled with the sweetness of familiarity, we pull into the driveway and as we exit the car the humidity hits me like a blanket . Coming back to the house I’ve never left before, everything is different but familiar.
I live for my brother, he’s my hero, he’s so cool and funny and I always tell stories about him to new friends at camp. And now I’m coming back and going to see him. I run upstairs to his room. Open the door, the air conditioning is on full blast. I hear the strains of piano, I’ve never heard anything so beautiful, pounding from the old turntable console by Magnavox – the end section of “Layla” by Derek & the Dominos, the piano repeats and climbs and soars, the air is chilled, I am so grateful and happy to see my brother. Something has changed. Adolescence has taken hold, my brother is knowing, more relaxed. Something is coming . . . I am out of the loop but can feel the changes in him, in his room, in the music. The music foretells a sad sweetness at the end of childhood, the musicians are between us and adulthood. They share secrets with us, I connect on a personal level, I know the piano, I could do this, be this.
(Here is the music, put through my filter ideas of the air conditioning and the distance in memory from that time, WordPress won’t allow it to play simultaneously, so imagine what you’ve just read while you close your eyes and hear the strains.)