For those of you who were in the Gresham High School Concert Choir in 1995, you know what I’m talkin’ bout. As this does not (probably) account for an appreciable portion of my readership, I’ll expand…

Every year we went on a retreat together to work more effectively as a group, improve group dynamics , and partially disrobe in front of each other. As this event was usually conducted at a church camp, they were always happy to see us coming, but much happier to see us go. In fact, the third portion of the tradition was so throroughly exercised* my senior year, they asked us not to come back. But I digress**

My senior year, I was a section leader. As such, I had certain “responsibilities” which I interpreted as “abusing authority over younger more vulerable people, preferably until they cry. Unless you like them, in which case don’t.” What this meant, in practice, was that when we were preparing for retreat, I was in charge of creating the trust exercises*** and I used this opportunity to think about how best to create an environment of safety, foster the growth of intimacy, and cherry pick the people I wanted to know more about and put them in my own group.

Cut me some slack, I was sixteen for chrissakes.

SO! Boundary breaking that year was like, epic. Everyone said so. It was pretty well acknowledged that there was crying IN EVERY SINGLE GROUP EVEN THE ONES WITH THE FOOTBALL PLAYERS. I took this as a mighty personal triumph to make the majority of a 70 person group of people cry all at once. In a good way, though.

Not that boundary breaking was the only opportunity for tears. Ohhhh no. We also traditionally played what was affectionately called “The Kissing Game” but would have been more accurately called “Rugby + Sexual Angst & Terror” We all LOVED this game, and I took home a semi-serious injury every year I played. Basically the deal was, someone was “it” and sat in the middle of a giant circle of hormone crazed teenagers. That person would call out a number (to indicate a girl) and a letter (assigned to the boys) and those two people would rise. The object was for the opposite gender person to attempt to kiss the person who was “it” BEFORE the same gender person could kiss the attacking opposite gender person. Whoever failed, was then “it” and so it went. Mother of god. It was not unusual to see a adolescent girl clinging to her male counterpart like she wanted to be Queen of the Rodeo. Legs flinging around madly; channelling her inner leech. This game is by its nature pretty gender-biased, but we had some TOUGH BITCHES in that choir, so the girls did usually hold their own with surprising facility.

Then we’d walk outside to the natural amphitheater and sing; The beauty of that moment would quieten the laughter and violence both. Our voices would ring out over the water and return to us augmented by the stones and the trees and we would feel powerful and alive and part of something amazing. In such contrast to our silliness that we were humbled by our own wondrousness.

Wait, what was the point of this post?****

Ah yes, I have been pondering the nature of boundaries lately, and why I don’t seem to have any sense of where they might be in other people. I’m much better at breaking them than I am recognizing or respecting them. I was going to talk about that. And I think I will, but not today. Because this just ended up being funny and making me happy, and causing me to miss a whole bunch of those tough bitches and football players a whole lot. I wouldn’t want to muddy that with my typical maundering. I’ll save that for later.

 

*Literally. We were  playing shirts vs. skins touch football. This was especially interesting because a) many of the starting line up for Gresham’s football team were in concert choir and b) many of the “skins” were girls. I wasn’t playing, but took my shirt off anyway to provide much needed moral(?) support.

** As is my wont.

***Which were different in that nobody took any of their clothes off. I think.

**** Shit, with the digression again.