You know how in musicals, characters break into song seemingly at random, usually with no awareness that there's anything strange about singing at any or every moment of the day? Being at Ohalah is a little bit like that, and as I reflect on what it feels like to be heading home, I think leaving the singing behind may be the hardest part.
We sang early in the morning, at shacharit (and when there were options between different services, I chose the ones likeliest to be musical.) We sang to begin every conference session, and to end every session too. Sometimes we even sang during sessions, as a kind of aural palate-cleanser between speakers. We sang at the end of every meal. Throughout the gathering, there were people clustered with guitars and hand-drums, learning songs or teaching them, all over our corner of the hotel.
On the SuperShuttle from Boulder to the airport, when we got a good view of the mountains we broke into one of my favorite tunes for "Esa Einai" (in English, "I cast my eyes up to the mountains / from whence comes my help...") Our driver must have been bemused, although -- as my seatmate noted -- at least it wasn't "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall!" As groups of us exited the shuttle, at the different stops along the airport walk, others still on the bus sang farewell songs.
And then suddenly I was in the line for security, and finding a place to ensconce myself near my gate, and realizing that if I want music in the rest of my day, I'll have to whip out out my iPod.
In truth, there's no shortage of music in my life. I feel very lucky in that regard. But it may take me a few days before it feels entirely normal to begin a task without singing first. For now, as I prepare to fly home, those last songs are still echoing in my ears.