Lost in Storage—Remembering the Future
The sky was dull grey, and spit drops of rain in an unconvincing manner. Oddly steady and random at the same time. One of those days that could be depressing or nostalgic. Almost certainly one of those days destined to pass without any sunshine.
I pulled up to the double-decker Sundance storage unit. Fumbled with the old lock for a moment and hauled on the chain to raise the tall roll-up garage door.
In an ordinary and pre-pandemic August, I would be finalizing my designs for the elaborate Sundance setting at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. About this time of year, I’d be visiting the storage unit to inventory supplies, mark items for the Sundance moving crew, or search out a missing set of fabric panels.
I felt at home in the storage unit. Comfortable in its dusty familiarity. Around me, carefully wrapped and labeled fragments of past glory. I stood for a moment listening to the magnified sound of raindrops pinging on the metal roof and thought about the previous 32 years of Sundance.
Tall racks filled with plastic-wrapped rolls of fabric snagged my attention and pulled me out of my indulgent reverie. Quickly spotting the small bundle I needed for this year’s video backdrop, I was about to head home when I saw the label written with my own hand on a nearby roll.
Laughing, I picked it up. Curious, because I don’t usually add commentary to my labels.
“Stunning (underlined) Neon Spandex Columns, 2019, to fit 15” x 30” [x12’, light] columns.”
Stunning! I confess, I did love those light columns.
I also love the dance. The auction/cocktail party night is fun—and raises a lot of money—but I build it for the dance.
When asked why I have continued to produce Sundance for over three decades, my answer has always been, “For the dance. I do it for the dance.”
Something good happens when we gather together at the end of each summer to celebrate the passage of another season. No matter how exhausted I am from being on my feet for seven days of unrelenting preparation—even knowing I will only have time to grab a couple hours of restless sleep before returning the next morning to break it all down—I always walk away inspired.
I will miss the dance this year—and all it takes to make it beautiful.
Standing there in the storage unit on that rainy August morning, 32 years of rainbow-hued Sundance memories flooded my mind all at once.
(Cue Barbra soundtrack. “…misty watercolor memories…”)
I laughed again. So easy to screw up memories. Do we remember “the way things were”? Really were? Or the way we’ve told them to one another our whole life long?
Perfect or not, wisdom comes from remembering the lessons from our past.
Remembering the past is good. Living in the past is a dead end.
Past experiences—good and bad—are the foundation of tomorrow’s decisions.
Slowly emerging from an almost two-year period of grief after Steve passed away, I gradually became aware that my attention was shifting from “what was” to “what will be.” From past to future.
Understanding there will be a future not filled with pain and mourning is a massive step toward recovery from the loss of a loved one.
Alone in the storage unit, I smiled again as I remembered how many times I called Steve from the Convention Center, sending him dashing out to retrieve some lost box or roll of fabric we “just had to have” to finish the Sundance setup.
I smile a lot these days—even in this painful year when we have so much to worry about. I smile because the life lessons we remember the best—the ones that reshape our lives—are also the most difficult to endure. I smile because, even from the side of the mountain, the valley behind me is a visible reminder of the past.
I smile because I can also see the top of the mountain.
The past three decades of Sundance and CAMP Rehoboth had their ups and downs. Nothing in our previous experience could have fully prepared Steve and me for what it would take to build CAMP Rehoboth.
Founding is easy. Sticking around long enough to live through the growing pains is the hard part.
I’ve often argued over the years that our only real success was not giving up. And, oh boy, there were days we both wanted to run away as fast as we possibly could.
But we stayed. And we learned from our mistakes—at least most of them.
The first Sundance—we say it every year—was our 10th anniversary celebration. Approaching that date this year doesn’t make me sad. Steve’s memory is cause for celebration and his presence is not a thing of the past. We walk together into an unknown and exciting future.
The storage unit is an appropriate spot for unpacking memories. “Let it all go,” he would say.
There’s a fine line between hoarders and archivists.
He’s laughing at me now, I’m quite sure.
Let it go.
2020 will be dissected for decades to come. Caught up in it we can only speculate about the permanent changes it will create throughout the world. If nothing more, it will at least live as an example of how not to behave in a pandemic.
I want to believe we will as a people learn from its painful lessons. That we remember that equality, justice, kindness, and love are the core of who we are as a nation.
I am inspired by the outpouring of support from our community this year—and immensely proud of our Sundance family. Though not really offered more than t-shirts and a name on a list, our faithful Hosts, Supporters, and Sponsors have stepped up to make sure we surpassed our goals.
Read all about Sundance in this issue or visit camprehoboth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Please plan on joining us for our online auction and live Facebook events. We will not dance together this Labor Day weekend, but all of our DJs have prepared music to see us through until the mirror ball rises above the dancefloor once again.
For now, we remain a community United in Love.