Today I entered into a new era. I didn’t really want to but it just happened. My cousin has a twenty year old son. Let’s call him Hector. Which may be his real name, it may not. Hector has read my blog, or at least he says he’s read the first three lines of my blog...then, in his words, he “wandered off, or fell asleep.” When I seemed unimpressed by him being unimpressed he pointed out that to encourage him to carry on reading I should be more ‘engaging’.
“You’ve got to capture the reader...make them want to read on...”
Thanks Hector. Bet you’re blummen well reading on now eh?
Hector....Hector? Wake up.
Yes, so, Hector was staying the night at my house because he has a meeting this morning at the American Embassy to get his visa sorted so he can go and work on a camp in the USA for the summer. Like I did in 1989.
Ah....the summer of ’89. The summer I still refer to as ‘the best summer of my life’ even though there have been twenty five summers since, all with their good moments. The summer of ’89. That summer. A crystal summer. The summer “I got my first real six string...” ...amongst other things. Oh I could write and write and write about it, but I won’t. Not today. Today I have other thoughts. And Hector doesn’t need to read about what ‘Auntie’ Lara was getting up to during Shabbat services at camp Cedar Lake. Not yet. Not that he’ll still be reading this of course. He will have wandered off. Or fallen asleep.
I showed him the photos, last night. The photos of a young, slim, fit, blonde, bronzed sailing instructor. Then I showed him some photos of me, boom boom! He said all the right things...”you haven’t changed a bit!” Such a good boy. “Well, maybe a few extra wrinkles...” Yes, and a few extra stone. Then he stared at the page for a very long time until I realised that he doesn’t know how a photo album works.
“You have to turn the pages”, I pointed out. “Like a book.”
I showed him the pictures of the tent I lived in for six weeks. Pictures of my days off, chasing the waterfalls that inspired the song “RememberMonday”. I showed him pictures of my post camp travels: Chicago, New York, Niagara, Miami, Florida. I said “I’d give anything to be back there and do it all again”, then bit my lip and we laughed at how pathetic it was that I was lamenting like an old person. How I sounded like my mum, or his grandma. We discussed how much money he should need and whether it was better to travel by Greyhound or to buy a cheap car. He was worried by some stories he had heard about ex convicts travelling by Greyhound. I think I put his mind at rest when I told him that there’s every chance you could get on any bus at any time, anywhere in the world and be sat next to an axe murderer.
That’s when I became conscious of the fact that I was fulfilling a different role to the one I’m used to. I’ve always been the youngest in the family. I’m usually the one going off and having adventures and seeking support and advice from my elders. Suddenly I am the elder. Hector was coming to me for guidance and recommendations. He wasn’t really invested in teary eyed memories of my experience and didn’t indulge my moment of nostalgic melancholy. He wanted to know whether it was better to fly or drive from Las Vegas to Orlando. And more importantly, how to get from my house to Piccadilly.
In the morning it was foggy so I walked him to the bus stop, gave him some change incase his oyster card didn’t work and told him to make sure he took a bottle of water with him on the tube. It took all my efforts to restrain myself from licking a hanky and wiping his face with it. For I now was the adult. The advisor, the mentor, the consultant. For him, I was in the same category as the family members that had counselled me all those years ago. I was the grown up, at the side of the road, waving to the young hopeful, off on an adventure.
“Text me when you’re there safe,” I called out, “...and fly to Orlando, don’t drive. Remember?”
He wasn’t really listening now. He was on the next leg of his journey and had put his headphones on and sat down next to a pretty young mum with her toddler. But I called after him anyway as the bus pulled into the misty morning, “....and Hector, watch out for axe murderers”.