Let's just say that it feels like home there more than anywhere else, and that it feels even more like home now that the event is increasingly being steered by people of my generation (with, it seems, implicit permission of the exhausted founders of the Havurah "movement"). It's just a shame how many people there have actual homes quite far from mine. At least there's a bunch of them in DC. I'll have to visit more; DC and elsewhere. I'm not sure how, but I want to try.
Thanks to meganruth4, H10, my most important group of friends since freshman year of college if not longer, got together at Institute. We all know each other from there (roughly speaking), but we'd been growing apart as a group, as a havurah, over the past two years or so. Spending an hour or two of quality time together catching up, whichever of us were there at the time, warmed my soul.
ETRG and I joked about running Institute together in 2010, especially if she's living in Philly then. It was a joke, yes, but I kind of actually want to do it. 2008 and 2009 are already taken, which bodes quite well for the amount of volunteer energy the Institute community has. I'm thrilled: the NHC seems more vibrant than it has at any point in the five years I've been involved.
While I was at Institute, I found out some juicy information that was embargoed until I was at Fest, so I couldn't really post about it until now: Minyan Merkaz, a minyan I attend that was considering relocating to the building of a local synagogue, has decided to stay put instead. This is fantasic news for the Philadelphia independent Jewish community. I'm really happy.
I'm sick. I came down with a cold around two Thursdays ago, mid-Institute. It's still lingering, helped along a bit by DustFest '07 (Wednesday through Saturday), RainFest '07 (all day yesterday), and my typical sleep schedule the past two weeks. I've probably averaged a bedtime of 1:45 and a waking time of 6:45 during the vacation.
Last week I saw a SEPTA bus driving on the 44 route. The digital sign, instead of saying "44 - 5th and Market" or whatever, said "911 Call Police". The bus was also stopping at a 44 stop, picking people up and dropping them off. This isn't the first time I've seen that sign, but it is the first time I called. I said something like, "Um, the driver probably pushed the wrong button or something, everything looks normal, but it said to call, so I called." They said they'd send someone out. I hung up and drove away.
Fest was good. Really. My angsting here was probably just a result of the transition from Institute to Fest so quickly. Last year, I went from Institute to a wedding to Fest in about 30 hours. I was planning that for months, so I was completely mentally prepared, and I managed the transition fine. This year, I remembered doing the transition problem-free last year, and I had 3 nights at home between the two events instead of 1, so I didn't prepare myself so well emotionally. The result was that I was really detached from Fest for the first day or two. But then it got better.
Ariel was back at Fest! And back in my life! Yay! Hopefully I'll be seeing more of him, since he lives with Joe less than a mile from here.
Good bands from Fest: Old Springs Pike, Angel Band, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Mavis Staples, and John Flynn. Too bad OSP doesn't even have a CD yet, and too bad I'd probably only enjoy the Drops and Mavis live rather than over my headphones. But I got an Angel Band CD, and I should start buying some John Flynn stuff soon. Also, I heard very little of Les Yeux Noirs, Back of the Moon, and Johnny Duke & The Aces, but they all seemed good as well. I feel like I saw less music in general this year, between the rain and just choosing to hang out with friends rather than see music at times. I'm okay with that.
This will forever be known as my Coffee Vacation. I probably handled over 60 lbs of grounds over the past week and a half.
First, when I was helping to unload the NHC truck last Monday, we found two and a half boxes (about 3 dozen 12 oz. bags) of the organic, kosher, fair-trade coffee we'd bought for Institute. We thought we'd drank most and sold the rest. Oops. So I took it, sold a dozen bags, and sent the rest down to Joelle to get rid of.
Then, at Fest, it was my first year volunteering on the Food committee, preparing meals for the other volunteers. I was on breakfast shift for three days. Somehow, without me saying a word, the crew chief intuited that I'm not really big on food prep. So she made me The Coffee Guy. I quickly learned the recipe (1 gigantic filter, 2 pounds coffee, 5 and a half gallons of water in excess of 160°F, one gallon of coffee from the urn poured back through the filter again to mix better, and rinse off the filter basket with the hot water hose), and then I probably made 15 or 20 batches over the course of the weekend. I'm told it was good coffee. I also found out that the last Coffee Guy had the gig for about 30 years. Good thing they didn't tell me this until my last shift was over.
Oh, did I mention that I don't even drink coffee?
I've been spending significantly more time on Flickr and Facebook the past two weeks, refreshing obsessively. There's nothing I want to do more than just see more Institute and Fest photos. I stopped bringing my own camera to these things, because other people are taking plenty of pictures and because mine is just 2MP anyway. But other people have to post their stuff, or else it doesn't do me any good! I've got plenty of pics already, but I want MORE!
I'm still sad that I can't do both Institute and Fest next year, due to the fact that they're the same week. I'm still going back and forth on this, but I think I'd like to leave Institute early Sunday morning next year and drive to catch the last day of Fest. It'll be quite sub-optimal, but I think missing Fest entirely for a year might be worse.
At least 6 friends who I've spent significant time with in the past two weeks, and a handful more who I haven't seen recently, are going to be in Israel next year. And I want to visit in April. For real. Starting now, I'll see what I can do to make that happen.
Anyone who I've spent time with in the past two weeks, and anyone who couldn't make it but was there (either place, or both) in spirit: I miss you all. A lot.