Ode to summer

It’s the first Sunday morning in October and the sky is a bit overcast and the sun didn’t make an appearance until almost 7am and it hits me with startling suddenness – the summer is well and truly over. I can be forgiven for not noticing – September has been warm here in Denver. I’m still wearing flip flops most days and running the air conditioning in the car. I just barely broke out the hoodie for early morning chill. But still – we are firmly in fall’s embrace and somehow I managed to block the reality of that from my sight.

As soon as I have this thought, I remember a different time in my life when I did almost the same thing. It was the summer of 1983 (that almost sounds like a song title!). My dad had orders to San Diego in the fall and we (my dad, my brother, and I) were staying in Maine until the very last minute while my mom and younger siblings headed West for a short stay in Utah before we all reunited in sunny California. I especially did not want to think about that move. I was starting my sophomore year of high school and had big plans for my life. I had made the school girls soccer team and was looking forward to rejoining the JV girls basketball team where I had made friends as a freshman. I had friends and boys I wanted to date (16 was getting closer and closer).

Somehow I convinced myself that we wouldn’t really be leaving – at least not before I got to play a few basketball games. I ignored all of the things that pointed to our departure. I threw myself into my life and my friends and soccer and school with blinders on. No countdown calendar for me! It was with a sense of shock that I realized the day had come to pile into the station wagon with all our suitcases and Smokey, the cat, and a chain hotel guide of places to stay along our route to Utah.

I think back on those last days in Topsham, Maine. I never really said any goodbyes or wandered around taking “one last look” at familiar scenes. One morning, instead of getting on the school bus, I got into the car and we drove away. I still can’t decide if it was a good thing that I ignored the departure until it happened (enjoying my life as though change wasn’t imminent) or if I missed out on the opportunity to make my peace with the close of a chapter. I do know that somehow this has all become tangled up in my feelings about summer and fall.

I fancied myself a budding writer in my high school years, though I never wrote much beyond school essays. Still, there is a short piece I wrote on summer. Here’s an excerpt:

The summer.  I don’t want to watch as it is pushed into the background, hidden from view.  I don’t want to see its bright, loud colors subdued in shadow as fall takes its place at center stage of the school auditorium. I know wishing the impossible is futile.  Fall is so full – new experiences, new opportunities, the excitement of new school clothes, of new classes, soccer in the brisk afternoons … But, like a child, summer tugs at my heart and I’m reluctant to let it go.

I might be decades past this moment in my life but I still find myself reluctant to let summer go it’s way. As I explained to a friend, “I’m surrounded by people enamored of the cooler weather, football, pumpkin spice, wood fires …. it’s not that I begrudge you all your passion – I’m just mourning the loss of the sunshine and the heat and the green.” I might have had my head stuck in the sand this year – but fall will not be ignored! Maybe I’ll make a countdown calendar for summer 2023 … nothing weird about that, right?? In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy your cozy sweaters!

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