My Blood And Bones In A Flowing Galaxy Full Movie Banished! Summer, 1965

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Banished! Summer, 1965

“Over here, Nan,” Terri yelled into the wind, her arms waving like traffic lights overhead. She was standing on the lawn by the mast where a group of my unit was sitting, waiting for me.

I walked happily down the path from the Lodge, carefully holding a hand-stitched felt mail bag. The mail for our unit, Samoset, the oldest scouts in the camp, counselors in training or CITs, as they called us, were close to my heart.

I smiled at the breeze and, as if time stood still, my whole body sank into the sweetness of this moment.

The cap of the blue sky shimmered with a glow that whispered of early autumn.

The warm sun was diluted by a delicious, gentle breeze, creating a balance of heat and cold on my bare hands that completely pinned me down, calling me into presence. It was the last weekend of my two-summer counselor training program at my beloved Archbald Girl Scout Camp. In fact, this summer was the culmination of the ten summers I spent here at camp, loving this place on earth, memorizing its trails, breathing in its scents, mastering its skills, and flourishing in its rigor, love, and encouragement. This weekend was our zenith: we will be getting reviews from our days of CIT training, multi-day fire testing, track leading, camping, tent pitching, shoreside skills and teaching practice with junior units. Once we received our points, we would be initiated into that rarefied world of counseling, which held deep power and meaning for all of us. Next summer we will return to camp to become, like our heroes before us, cool, loving, competent, all-knowing counselors, just like those who have raised and loved us through the years, until this moment. We would become their divot and carry on their tradition of compassionate and loving respect for all.

It was a fierce moment, because we were standing on the threshold of this profound initiation.

I quickened my pace, scraping my dirty Keds on the dusty path, hurrying toward my friends who sat stretched out in a swaying horde. I smiled at their shared sloppiness and began handing out the mail, tossing the beloved envelopes toward each recipient with a wave and a wave of the hand:

“Margie Regean, for you,” with a flick of the wrist.

“Terri Z., and you too,” throwing a cream-colored envelope in her direction.

“Miss Gladys Roth, ah-haaa,” I cried, and began to run around the spacious unit, holding the desired letter from my dear friend Gladys above her head as she chased after me feigning fever. Laughter and laughter followed us, only to be interrupted by the bell of the camp with our invitation to lunch. Our mock fight ended when Gladys pounced on the letter, tripping me in the process. As we fell to the ground, laughing, the rest of the mail was quickly and efficiently distributed. We got off, dusted off our behinds and wandered down the hill towards the dining room as a relaxed group.

Walking down the hill, I thought, given my awe and love for this place. More than camp, I thought, kicking up the familiar dust. This place was my solace, its culture of experiential outdoor education aimed at girls just what my broken child heart needed. I lived from summer to summer, counting the months, weeks and days until I returned to this holy land. Extraordinary things happened here: I counted, I shone, I was completely loved and completely accepted as I was. The camp was the miracle of my life, the place where I came alive.

We climbed the rickety and oh-so-familiar stairs to the south side of the dining room, the door creaking behind us, and found our seats at the three eternally sticky tables meant for Samoset. Our two counselors, Ginny and Scarlett, were noticeably and unusually absent from lunch. I whispered to Gladys, “I wonder where Ginny and Scarlett are?”

She shrugged and whispered back, “Maybe they’re still processing the test results.”

The Grace Leader, an older Girl Scout, stood at the front of the dining room and raised her hand as silence filled the room. She led us in one of my favorites, “God Made a New Day:”

God created a new day

Silver and green and gold.

Live for the sunset to find us

Worthy of His gift of posture.

The voices floated along with that scouting magic of harmony and perfection, and the music filled every niche of that open, gnarled pine space around us. I loved the mealtime bounties – even though my Jewish sensibilities tried to restrain my heart, there was often a flood of feeling and warmth that filled me when I partook of them. It would be years before I began to consider the strength and gift of the foundational faith that Girl Scouts offered me during those early and vibrant years, my first touch of gentle assurance that I was not alone.

We chattered our way through the meal, mouths stuffed with white bread, full of ourselves, our journeys and tribulations of CIT testing almost behind us. I felt both soft and excited. No one has ever crashed the program. Sometimes the girls had to repeat certain phases of training during special mid-year camps, but this was rare – almost unknown. And, frankly, I knew my competencies. I knew I was a star in our little Girl Scout galaxy – I was a strong swimmer, a white cap, the highest honor. My canoeing skills were spot on and reliable. I was able to quickly build dynamite and an effective tepee fire formation, navigate the camp, and my teaching practice with the younger campers, despite my fear, went well. I was known and loved for my abilities – a complete dichotomy with my life in the city, where I was indecisive, withdrawn and plagued by self-doubt.

I saw my world spread out before me. Despite the fears of next, my senior year—SAT testing, college applications, and leaving home—my launch into college will follow next summer, first as an Archibald staff member, a perfect and inevitable springboard to life. This was really cool – it was everything I’d ever wanted.

We hurriedly finished this, one of our last meals as campers, and descended the stairs to return to the unit for an hour of rest.

And then the strangest things started to happen. We saw Ginny and Scarlett walking towards us. Something was wrong, I felt it right away. There was an almost chill in the air as they approached. Ginny, dark skinned and compact, wore her signature straw cowboy hat down, clashing with her huge sunglasses. Although I couldn’t see her eyes or even her face through the mask of all that, I could feel her walking hesitantly, out of rhythm. There was a vivacious twenty-four-year-old working on her master’s degree in divinity. But now she wasn’t bouncing. And Scarlett, round and ruddy, was looking straight ahead, through us and past us. This was really strange for someone as social as Scarlett.

Our advisors headed straight for us, marching straight into our path. We stopped abruptly under an old oak tree, its branches like open palms, stretched out to gather the glory of heaven. I could only think of the showdown in the movie, Gunfight at the OK Corral. There was a moment of long, strange silence during which I could hear the song of my heart, its beating rhythm. We stared at each other in a deep and strange silence of silence.

Scarlett, a senior staff member, a junior college PE teacher, cleared her throat and broke the silence. “Nan, we need to talk to you in private.”

My blood seemed to grow cold, my bones heavy, that lovely afternoon warmth gone.

“Oh,” was all I managed to get out. My voice screamed, pathetic and petty.

“Let’s go up to Schoonover Hall,” Scarlett said, all business, and turned, officially turning on her heel, to start up the small hill. Ginny, as if in a trance, followed her. I felt the blood drain from my face, my hands became cold and stiff. Like in slow motion, my breath getting louder and louder in my own ears, I turned around on legs that weren’t mine. I was being pulled towards my destiny.

I walked behind them, that in itself is a strange and unusual experience. They were my heroes, my mentors. I have never felt anything but kinship and support from them, in an equal, open way. They were two women I knew very well, who knew me very well. But not at this moment. There was no access at this time. So I dragged myself behind them, heavy steps, empty thoughts, less and less air, legs getting heavier and thicker with each step. When I reached the climb, they appeared on the benches at Schoonover, waiting for me.

I couldn’t breathe

Scarlett coughed. “This is difficult, Nan, but we are here to tell you some decisions that have been made regarding your CIT testing.”

My lungs, already hungry for oxygen, for energy, narrowed even more, the balloons were emptied, the fuel squeezed. My tongue, whose thickness almost suffocated me, defended against a verbal response.

She continued. “Decisions have been made… decisions about attitude, about maturity levels…”

Ginny squirmed, silent and sullen.

“Decisions about… the lodge, Miss Anna, the administration…” She paused, choked a little on the last syllable, regaining her balance, her eyes fixed on the floor below me.

“Decisions on…it has been decided that…your skills and attitude are not up to warrant your CIT degree tonight.” She sat down on the bench with a sigh.

In slow motion I watched myself slide down a rabbit hole, a dark, soft, endless rabbit hole, losing my footing and ground in the moment, sliding down an outgrowth, sliding and slipping away from reality. Scarlett’s words floated towards me from a distance, from a galaxy several lifetimes away. I heard practically nothing but my own heartbeat and the sound of my body falling, sliding away.

I woke up briefly from this nightmare to feel Ginny’s hand on my knee. Her glasses were off, her hat was thrown aside, her face was passionate and distorted:

“Miss Anna. This is Miss Anna’s decision. As the camp director, she questions your level of maturity and your ability to control your actions. We challenged her to no avail.” Darkness seemed to wash over her face and she spat out, “This isn’t about you at all.”

What? I felt like it was about me. This resonated with me more than any other moment in my seventeen years.

The meeting ended, day turned to night, my pain slid and slid and took away every bone, every cell, every molecule of my being. This trauma, this cutting off was a physical thing, living, alive, inhabiting my body. There was no sleep, no celebration for the others who had passed the training, no rejoicing by the campfire. Only my individual sadness and our collective disbelief filled the unit. We were, as a group, my friends and I, silent and disoriented. Sadness stunned me, forced me into silence. The plug to my life energy has been pulled. I had no future.

Darkness came over Samoset that evening with a silent, deep vengeance.

I lay on my bed in the cathedral of my tent, my other tent friends finally resting, as sleep eludes me. No sleep for me tonight. I thought I might never be able to sleep again. The grace we sang at lunch so long ago continued to haunt me, to chase, to run, to flow through my brain – Live that the sunset might find us – worthy of His gift to hold. The sunset came and erased what was sacred, what rightfully belonged to me. The gift was no longer mine, no longer mine to hold.

I was not worthy.

It’s not worth it.

It’s not worth it.

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