Letter to Aaron

This is a letter I wrote to my friend Aaron who is, as I write, at boot camp for the Marines. It contains some inside jokes and personal stuff (I also took out somethings that were in the original letter), but I thought I would post it on the blog anyways since I haven’t posted anything in awhile:

Hey Aaron!

Sorry if this took forever but the day after I left for Poland your letter came. Poland… hmmm… what can I say? I’ve been giving everybody else the short answer “it was fun” but really it was something more. If I were to put it in one word I would say that it was meaningful. Dude, I cannot wait until you are able to go to like Japan or something because then you will know exactly what I am talking about! Going to another country is so eye-opening to how big the world actually is. There are so many people with so many different opinions and worldviews, but the weird thing that gets me is all the similarities. You’ll see this soon!

It’s hard to talk about how I felt at Auschwitz-Birkenau, mainly because everyone has this preconceived idea that what I felt was sadness, which it was, but it is more solemn then melancholy, really. Auschwitz, which was the work camp, pretty much has the atmosphere of a museum now, which is not necessarily a bad thing because it was a great educational experience. There was a couple times I got choked up in Auschwitz, though. There is this one room that is full of shaved hair. I was sort of flabbergasted when I saw it. We had just been through like 3 rooms containing stuff like documents, and then without warning from the tour guide we enter this huge room (it is more like a long hallway, really) and it is full of hair! It kind of knocked me back with the un-expectancy of the whole thing. Then there were other rooms full of shoes, suitcases, peg legs and other instruments for the handicapped. It was all very hard to take in. Another eerie thing was the crematorium. They have where you can actually walk in. It was so silent inside. I know that God is everywhere, but he does not speak there. There God is silent. It was raining that day and I don’t remember it being this cold but when I was inside the crematorium I could see my breath and then got freaked out, not of ghosts per say, but of the evil that once lurked there.

Birkenau, the death camp, was the hardest to go to because it looks the same as it did in 1945; nothing has changed. My first glance of the camp keeps on playing in my mind. We were on the bus talking and what not, trying to forget where we were going, and then as soon as we turn the corner and get first sight of the camp, a light snow starts falling. It is so weird to have one of those moments when a bunch of people are talking and then they see something so somber that everyone just stops whatever they’re doing and just stares. The entire time I was there I couldn’t stop from shaking, in retrospect I suppose my shaking could have been due to the weather, but at the time, my being cold was the last thing on my mind. There were so many emotions I was having there that they just kind of blended into this dark mauve-like color of an overwhelming amount of sadness, hatred, guilt, disrespectfulness, anger, and numbness.  What I hated most though is that I could not bring myself to cry. My bottom lip was quivering, I was twitching like a crack addict; I had all the symptoms and yet I could not bring myself to cry. Then we went to this area called “Canada”, which was a new building the Nazi’s had just built before the Russians came that they have turned into an exposition (other than this everything is exactly as it was). Inside “Canada” there is this room that has individual pictures and stories of prisoners before the Holocaust. They were so simple, just short biographies with information about their family, what they did for a living, what they did for fun, etc. I wanted to read them all! It was so weird the teeter-totter play of happiness and sadness I had while reading these. It was like I was reading about people I knew! Like I was reminiscing with their families! There was this one about a girl and it said that she loved to pose in front of the camera and it had all these funny pictures of her with her friends at the beach or in the mountains. This girl in particular reminded me of myself as I thought back to all the crazy pictures I have taken. Especially all the group pictures, I just kept thinking of what all the comments might have been before (and while) the photos were being taken, and of course in a large group picture it seems someone has to be the clown lying down with leisure in the front. While reading these I hadn’t even noticed I had started crying. I probably looked so funny the way I was crying with this huge grin on my face (considering where we were). This was the last thing we saw before we left the camp, and it is what has stuck with me the most. Seeing other people’s memories displayed like that made me think of my own memories. I left the camp with this new sense of inspiration because I realize how much I cherish simple memories with friends and family and I want to fight to preserve those and to create new ones.

Wow. Sorry, this was incredibly long (I hope you have time to even read it) but I needed to share with someone on the outside (of the now close-knit group that went to Poland with me) and someone that I trust, what I was feeling. Also, before you left you said to write you about the concentration camps to remind you that you could you be in a much worse place. I’m trying out your “how time flies when you’re having fun” theory to get you back home sooner! Is it working? I haven’t got a hold of Mexican, but I haven’t tried either. I just keep hoping for the day that he calls me. I know that you are bound for greatness and I am still praying for you! Just don’t let them brainwash you!!!

                                                                                         Your Brother in Christ,

Brant

 

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Published in: on April 14, 2008 at 2:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

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