Friday, September 21, 2007

IT WAS ME by Sarvananda Bluestone

There was something about Zack. I couldn’t be sure what it was. There was something about Zack that drew me to him like a magnet. He was a chubby nine year old. One of the youngest kids in camp. But age never meant that much to me. That’s why I go there. To forget age.

“You don’t have much to worry about the cold, Donny. You’re well insulated.” Leon said that. I don’t remember why but I do remember that it didn’t bother me. He wasn’t saying that I was fat. I wasn’t. I was just chubby. Funny thing was that nothing Leon said bothered me. I knew that he would never ever say anything to hurt me. Although he might say something I wish he wouldn’t say. Still. I was nine and I loved running around. I always ran around. Never seemed to walk. Seemed like such a waste of time walking when you could run. So many places to get to. So many places to get to fast and then move on. And the funny thing about Journey’s End Farm was that the journey never seemed to end.

Years later, with my wife Heather, I visited Doris at the Bruderhof. She and Bud had been there forever. They had been there in Paraguay. They had been there in Rifton. They had gone there right after Journey’s End. Doris was one of the two daughters of Edith and Leon. Bud was her husband and my counselor.

“What was he like?” Heather asked. She always seemed to be interested in my childhood. I didn’t mind.

Doris looked at me and smiled. She wasn’t much for words. Neither was Leon, who she took after. She was sewing something I think. She turned to Heather and said, “I never knew what he was up to. He always seemed to have a smile on his face like the cat, you know.”

I snuck around this summer with the digital Nikon that my son in law had given me or the little digital Leica that I cherished. I captured the kids and staff when they least expected it. I could see how many indigenous people saw the camera as stealing your soul. I just borrowed them this summer.

Zack was sitting at the picnic table, writing something. He was bent over the paper almost resting his head on the table. He had a smile on his face. There was something inside that brought that smile. With a click of the Leica I caught that smile. I caught it forever. There was something about it that intrigued me beyond understanding. There was that chubby, nine year old boy with the thick dark hair and dark brown eyes smiling to himself and it echoed inside of me.

The first time we went to the beach I sat on the bus with the youngest kids. Zack was interested in Reiki. Somehow he had found that I did Reiki and wanted to know all about it. His curiosity and impatience were wedded to a staccato dialogue that might have disconcerted some folks. For me, it was just communicating. It was like running. Why talk slowly when there is so much to say? I explained all I could in half an hour and he wanted to practice immediately.

“Teach me all you know,” he said.

“We’ll take it one step at a time,” I said.

After a few basic sessions during free time, the fields beckoned, the pool called and enough was enough.

Leon tried to explain the name of every plant we saw in the woods or on the road. I was only interested in the ones that I could eat. Leon knew a lot about a lot and sometimes I would listen and sometimes I would get bored. I was more interested in people. Even at the circus Ma used to get frustrated because I would pay more attention to the people at the show than the show. Once, when I was four, or maybe five, I tried pulling on the tufts of hair in the ears of a sailor sitting in front of me. He didn’t like it at all.

“My father cheated on my mother,” Zack told me at lunch one day, “and they almost got divorced. But he’s being faithful now.” I didn’t blink an eye at that one. We had definitely opened communication. I listened when he talked and he listened when I talked. Good basis.

His mother was a psychiatrist. His father was an eye, nose and throat specialist. Two M.D.’s for parents. That’s how I started out but the parallel there would be too facile. Ma was not a psychiatrist but she might as well have been. She would have told me anything that was going on. Except that my father was dying, of course.

“Why do you collect things so much?” my babysitter asked me when I was nine.

Gesell says that it’s a stage I’m going through,” I said. Ma got a laugh out of that one when the babysitter told her. I didn’t know why, but always appreciated a good laugh.

“My mom was the only child that her grandfather loved. He didn’t love people very much,” Zack said at dinner once.

There was just about nothing that Zack could say that would disconcert me. It was eerie because even though I love hanging out with the kids, sometimes I am aware that I am being a patient adult.

“Donny’s asleep again.” It must have been Bob. I wasn’t sure whether I was dreaming. But I never made it through more than the first few words of the story that Dick Abel, our counselor told. He had great stories, all from his life, from smoke jumper, to insane asylum attendant. The polio that paralyzed him from the waist down was never one of his stories. It didn’t have to be. But I never heard the stories beyond the first few words.

That second trip to the beach, Zack crashed out on the seat in front. He just fell out asleep and all of the loud chatter of the kids and the rattling of the bus did nothing to stir him. When I told a story to that bunk—a good story that had all the rest of the boys on the edge of their beds—Zack was out from the beginning. “He always does that,” one of the three Joshes said.

Then, at lunch one day, I looked at Zack who was sitting at a neighboring table. There was a glint in his eye. There was a familiar crazy glint in his eye. I didn’t know what it was and suddenly knew exactly what it was.

I raced to my room and pulled up a picture of myself when I was six. It was one of those portraits that Grandma and Grandpa Werner would drag me to get every time they came over from Scotland. I had seen that picture forever, but a few years ago I noticed that there was a crazy glint in my eyes.

I printed the picture out and showed it to Sharon, one of the nurses. I didn’t say a word. Just showed her the picture.

I heard a slight intake of breath before she asked, “is that Zack?”

No, I answered. It was me.


Known to his friends as "Sarv," Dr. Sarvananda Bluestone has been a professor of American History and an orange-clad seeker. He is currently writing his "Memoirs of a Borscht Belt Psychic," writes haiku every day, is an outstanding baker, theater director, gemstone afficionado and lover of music and literature.

You can read more of his writing at:

Sunday, September 2, 2007


Parties, winnings, gifts, birthdays, Christmas, a dance, a trip to the country, a school outing, a smile, genuine laughter, finding something valuable, Mother feeling happy, the family sitting for at least two seconds with everyone laughing, all constitute a period of promise. My period of promise.

And then it happens and the moment comes and the moment goes so fast. Was it real or was it just a passing glimpse? For this period never last for quite too long. Before you know it, it’s all back to gloom and doom. Frustration, anger, hurt feelings, anticipations, violence, greed, fight, food, and solitude. All morphed into inconsistency.

So, I keep rolling the dice and once in a while I may come up with sixes, but I keep rolling, yet some more and more and it never seems that I’m ever able to win at this game. A pause and Oops, the light is on again. A glimmer of hope, I dance for a day, a night, into the dawn. Oops, it’s gone again. Darnn, never consistent it seems.

And then you wonder, I wonder if it would ever change from a second to a period to a very long period. And then the promise, like the joy that is felt at the Ball, the dance, the Christmas gifts, the birthday gifts and the thought of a very long vacation, that this time it may, hopefully, convert into something concrete, something tangible, the Promise.

Oh, to be bought up on an empty promise is in my words is to breathe contempt. I said that? Yes, I said that. So happy moments like the Ball, the dance, Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, that thought of a very long, long vacation is over as soon the gifts are unwrapped, Christmas is come and gone, another year you’re older, the Ball is finished, the clock struck twelve, Cinderella has turned back into a Slave. The period of promise has already passed. Until the next Ball, the dance, the Christmas and birthday gifts, the thought or plans for a very, very long vacation. Mother just smiled, a chance at last.



Lloyd is an actor, director and a writer for life. Originally from Belize, he has written several one-act plays that have been performed at The Common Basis Theatre and other venues. He is currently working on a new play.