This is my season for flashbacks. We are in our second week of ACRA and each year I have brought Connor, my experiences at ACRA all come flowing back.
Let's start by explaining ACRA, which stands for Arden Communmity Recreation Association. I live in one of the Ardens, and this group plans gatherings and parties throughout the year for community members to participate in. The big even each year is the 5 week summer camp which meets at he Buzz Ware Village Center, former home of the Arden School. This building and program has been a part of my life for more years than I care to admit.
I went to ACRA when I was little, sometimes loving it, sometimes hating it, overall remembering it with fondness and appreciation that it was a part of my growing up years. I count it among the things that helped me to survive and thrive in a none to healthy family environment. ACRA gave me a place to be myself, a place to connect with my peers and their families, and a place that was safe and encouraging. My mother never understood my love of theater, ACRA reveled in it. I confused my family with my hippy leanings, ACRA found it normal.
When I had Connor, I could hardly wait to share ACRA with him. I imagined all the fun he would have, al the good memories he would make. I looked forward to watching him make those neighborhood connections that could last the rest of his life. Little did I know that Connor would not necessarily have an easy transition to ACRA.
Yep, my little monkey doesn't want to stay here without me. I have worked and worked on this and it just doesn't change. So I attend ACRA with him. The first year I never left the classroom, the second I graduated to sitting outside, which is what I am doing on this, his third year. It's slightly a drag, but it does allow for wonderful moments.
I love sitting on my picnic blanket watching the kids file in to ACRA. It could be the 1970s and all my friends are walking by, restored to youth. The images are timeless- long, lean bodies, chlorine bleached and still wet from swim team, towels slung around necks, barefeet, bikes, and smiling faces. The building fills with their voices, calling to each other, talking about the same crazy things we talked about (though peppered with more modern pop culture references of course). There are kids on the playground, playing Capture the Flag, swinging on the swings, climbing to the top of the jungle gym, and leaping the concrete pipes- all the things we all loved to do at their age. Best of all is when a gang of girls gather to lounge in the warm sun on top of the concrete pipes- it could so easily be me, Kirsten, Michelle, Annie.....
ACRA is a grand thing and I am so glad it is here for my son, like it was here for me. I hope it is here for my grandchildren and on down the generations as long as the Ardens are here, I hope there is ACRA so that we can all have these flashback moments.