Friday, June 30, 2006

Summer State of Mind

When I was smaller, I regarded the Fourth of July as a benchmark. A hard and fast entity, that, while always promised the sizzle of the grill, wet feet slopping drops from the pool to patio, and the fireworks at Limerock, first and foremost, the holiday meant one thing.

Half of summer gone.

I’m still small. In stature and in mind. Because even with the advent of Summer Fridays, the unrelenting pour of rain (that really shouldn’t tally, as it cuts back on useable warm days), and a vacation planned in August, before this moment, I’ve suffered from the idea that summer is a marked man.

An unshakeable feeling that his death is near.

Perhaps my gloominess is not entirely unfounded, just misdirected. It could very well be that the end of summer for me is pending, looming. Though not exactly because it’s Independence Day Eve. Maybe it’s because my summer job is actually my real job, trading the contraband crème brulees and cigarette breaks of a bus girl for the matching accessories and fountain pen of a worker bee.

No longer do I ride my bike to the little grill in town, I take the subway to a monstrous building cookie-cut from the mold of so many others.

No longer am I paid in cash, wrinkled bills stuffed into a maroon apron without counting, then shoved into a drawer, retrieved only for dime store lip-gloss and the cost of entry to a kegger. A paycheck arrives, already deposited into a bank account, full of columns and numbers and taxable subtractions. Depending on the week, it goes straight away to rent.

My parents say that they really don’t have a summer any more. Each day of the season cannot be distinguished from the last, save for the humid weather and weekend barbeques.

I find that heartbreakingly depressing. I refuse to become an adult about this. I see the error in my maturation and need to stop it. Not to remain young at heart, but because I know, deep down, I just will never be able to fully give it up. The memories of summers cascade through me.

Sleepovers, cooking fireside, mosquito bites, the community pool.

Swim lessons, day camp, packed lunches, pickles, juice boxes, shorts and scabbed knees, my bike, the sky, the porch, the burst of sparklers, Frisbee with my dogs, the ice cream truck, playing dodge ball in the dead-end street after dinner, the walk to the sticker store, the passenger’s seat of my parent’s car.

Field parties, his parent’s house when they’re in Europe, the drive between, the trampoline, red cups of beer, the backyard, Tiki torches, tank tops, popsicles, the sundeck, the evening.

Now glasses of white burgundy, the shore, beach towns, weddings, parties, walks around the block in search of gelato, counting the handful of stars visible in the city, taking those days off of work, ice coffee, her homemade desserts, his friends and their cigars, the garden in the back of the bar, the rooftop, paper lanterns, votive candles, the exclusive pool somehow within reach, Coney island for the concerts and hotdogs, the parade, shifts and linen.

Summer does alter as we age. But not in a bad way. Maybe it’s that summer does change tunes, but never quality.

For me, I just won’t let it. This has always been my most beloved time of year. And this year, I’m regarding the Fourth of July as the beginning of summer, not the middle, because I haven’t noticed it until now, haven’t slowed down with a belly-breath and a Sno-cone until now. Because now that I'm older, what I've lost in freedom, I've gained in choice.

So this year, I choose summer. Summer as a state of mind.
And it’s only just begun.

17 comments:

Another twentysomething said...

I love that: "Summer is a marked man." I totally agree. This year I promised to do something different every day, to make the summer last. Have a great 4th of July.

Laurie said...

I know what you mean. The other day, I had no plans after work, and had the entire day, from 5:00 on, to do whatever I pleased. And I wondered: What did I do with my days in the summertime? In the murky days between the end of the school year and the beginning of summer break? I didn't have to justify doing nothing then. Now, I excuse it to myself, reminding me that I've earned a day of sitting on the deck with a glass of Pinot and a notebook. Because, while I'm doing nothing, I'm thinking "I should be doing laundry, cleaning the bedroom, budgeting next month's expenses..." It's not fair. This isn't progress. Weren't we all happier back then? Why shouldn't we be doing it now?

I don't want to mature, either.

C-47 said...

altho your summer is a severely reduced version of the summers of youth, at least enjoy the little bit you have. for me the summer means 18hr days 7 days a week of excruciatingly hard/heavy work in brutal heat and (recently) humidity. my job is slowly turning summer into a hated season.
i long for rivers and cheap beer. rock climbing and shitty punk rock.
wiffle ball and nothing. if i had known what was around the bend...

Victoria said...

Yes. This post expresses how exaclty how I feel about summer, right down to: "counting the handful of stars visible in the city". I'm finding adjusting to summer in a city is just as hard as adjusting to summer as a working 'adult'.

themarina said...

Ahhhh the working summer. I long for the days of summer holidays. Hopefully, this will be resolved sooner rather than later. I'm happy to hear you're taking charge and making the best of it.

Have a wonderful long weekend. Enjoy every second of it!

KGT said...

A refreshing, sobering, inspiring, depressing "wake-up call" of a post. Well done. I'm headin' for sparklers and suds. Thank you.

LisaBinDaCity said...

You write like such a Southern Gal - love it!!!

Enjoy :-)

Broady said...

Ahhh the halcyon days of summer, how they do seem to disappear into adulthood.

Great post, gets me in the mind set for the 4th!

GeminiWisdom said...

Ooooh, this was a great one. By the way, 'tag, you're it,". Check out the latest post on my blog for details.

D.T. said...

Maybe summer is like Christmas, in that we should keep it in our hearts all year long. And it's nice to know you're one of the few who wont let summer just fade away...

mamak said...

You kind of get tradional summers back when you have children. I don't think it can ever be the same. But I know it can be better.

C-47 said...

just an update: my summer has perked a bit as i just finished working on a Gwar music video (cover of schools out for summer). I met balsac, flattus, oderus and beefcake. oderus let me wear the armor. summer just got a little better.

TopCat said...

I love this post. Even though I live so far away from you, so much made sense.

Serena said...

You nailed. Personally, I'm more of a fall girl.

debo said...

Hi K. If it´s gelato you seek, you have to get down to Il Laboratorio de Gelato (I think that´s right). It´s at 97 Orchard Street, just south of Delancey Street, directly across from my old apartment. Have a great 4th. Talk soon. CD

MKD said...

I have to say I'm not a summer person at all. I do remember the great outdoor adventures of my youth, but overall I loved the new clothes and smell of fall.

Hattigrace said...

Beautiful post. It is a gift. Thank you.