We are the experiences we create. –HRH
And as we drove back I got to see the memorial. The memorial! The one I thought I’d missed – I tried to rationalize it, saying I had seen other things but I was sad about that. And on the bus, someone out there (up there? Down there?) took care of me by letting me see it. I didn’t stand on the ground, but I did walk a lot of Terezin – by myself, with an “Empty Sky” above me, a small map to guide me and I did it. I “Let Go” and I did it. I can’t believe I did it.
Right up front my stomach dropped at the realization I had honestly made it to Terezin and I was standing on ground that over 87,000 Jews and sympathizers had stood on, danced upon and dies upon, leading to the point where I could come in with my NYU backpack and grasp even the tiniest piece of how this happened. Even had I gone to scarier place, like Auschwitz, I realized (while walking aimlessly near some ruined barracks) there is no way I will ever understand what this was like – nothing can truly show/make you experience the Absolute Worst. And that’s probably good. In fact, that’s a testament to our ability to keep history from completely mirroring itself.
…I may change my mind on that next semester…
The artwork and the writing and the music produced in this place was so far beyond my memory. I stood in front of so many things saying, “how did they create something with such high quality?” I mean, how’d they get the materials (slash the courage to steal the materials) but also…how did these young people, CHILDREN have the Energy or the Hope to create these dolls, these poems, these works of art????
The camp is kind of shaped like the star of David, which I thought was kind of ironic.
There were a few places that really affected me.
The Recreation of the Barracks
It didn’t matter it wasn’t the real thing, I immediately felt a sense of deep sadness, pain and fear. I almost couldn’t look at it? It almost made me lose Hope just by looking at it. “How can people be so heartless? How can people be so cruel?” ran through my head and walking out of the building I saw The Doors. I don’t know how else to explain them, but because of my what-the-hell-was-the-holocaust phase I’ve seen the image of The doors leading to the barracks so many times, it froze me to see them right in front of me, on the street. Oh, that was another thing. People live in this town now – they’ve made many of the ‘dormitories’ (barracks) into apartments.
If I felt the weight of the space by just being there a few hours, I can’t imagine what it would be like to LIVE there.
The Crematorium, The Morgue and the Jewish Cemetery
Holy shit. I tried not to curse there, though I slipped a few times. I’m pretty sure this was one of those times. No only did the history make me sick (the ashes being thrown in the river) but the second I entered the crematorium, this body-paralyzing fear fell over me. Any sound from The Outside was like a gunshot. It took every source of courage I could muster (NamMyohoRengeKyo, Shalom Rav, Misheberach, Grabbing my necklaces) sung.chanted over and over to get me to put one foot in front of the other. I think this fear wouldn’t have been as strong had I gone with someone so I’m almost glad I went alone because instead of crying cathartically, I felt something that children probably felt there: overwhelming and paralyzing fear. That fear was much more intense than the anziety I’ve felt in Europe and in my life. It came out of feeling so alone, so helpless and so vulnerable. There was no one around to help, no one to comfort and it brought on the worst question of all, “are we really alone?” I didn’t really feel alone - I was wearing jewelry that gave me something/”one” to hold onto, but that question became the reoccurring theme: even when shoved into tiny spaces with over 100 other people, many prisoners were alone and the environment didn’t help the reversal of that feeling.
Prayer Room of the Time of the Ghetto
“Pick me up, Love. Oh, everyday!”
This room was a very positive experience. I’m still not absolutely sure how it began (which is why I bought a book about it!) but it’s so amazing it’s still there with some (LOTS) of paint in-tact. I sang, of course, and the resonance was beautiful. It was like going to temple for the first time after coming back from Israel. It felt so good and so rich and so restorative. It’s not religion, it’s culture, it’s strength, it’s family, it’s Love.
What a way to spend a day…what a way to find out I’m stronger than I ever imagined. I’m so incredibly happy I just went – that I just did it. I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on this incredibly opportunity and “I’m Always So Grateful” that I have a wanderlust – even if traveling scares the shit out of me – because it pushes me to Grow. I can’t wait to share this with the big NYC.
The peachy thing about uncertainty, Holland, is that when everything else is equal, the cards are still heavily stacked in your favor. - TUT