Friday, July 27, 2018

Summer on the downswing

It's been a weird summer, and the weirdness isn't showing any signs of ending. But the summer is.

When I was a kid, my grandmother's birthday was always the point where it became obvious that summer was coming to an end. We would gather at her house, all the family that lived in the area, and have a coconut-iced cake and ice cream that always tasted strangely off and we would sing "Sto Lat," a traditional Polish birthday song that means "May you live 100 years." (She only made it to 88, three years older than my mother will be in a few weeks.) The following weekend - the final weekend of July - was the weekend of the St.Mary's church bazaar, another milepost in the ending of the season.

From that point on it was probably the same as for most kids growing up then. August was one last chance to squeeze some fun out of the summer, and to hell with the back-to-school sales. Despite the last-minute family trips, and no matter how fast we rode our bikes up and down the street, soon the smell of new school supplies, crayons and pencils and tablets and binders, would let us know that summer was ending for good.

The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon was the end of the ending. Staying up late to see current celebrities and bands, mixed in with lots of people we didn't know and didn't care about, was our last gasp. In a day or two we would be back in school, sitting through classes, feeling like it was all a bad joke, like if we wished for it hard enough, we could be outside again and free to play all day.

So this is it. Not the end, but the beginning of the end.

Are we prepared for what comes next?

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