“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning.” ~Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting
A friend (ok, random mom blogger) shared this quote on instagram last week (which was, of course, the first week of August, in case you’re not picking up on that) and it’s been lingering in my brain ever since. Summer tends to bring out my worst tendencies towards panicking. I don’t know who to blame (Hallmark? Obama? Probably Obama.) but sometimes it feels like there’s a great marketing scheme in place run by some kind of Big Fun Corporation to remind you that summer is fleeting and, goddamn it, you will enjoy every second. Sure this was doable when you were like, seven, what else did you have to do, but adulthood is a year round situation, gang. That shit don’t let out on June 17th. It can be easy (for me, anyway!) (but we’ve already established that I’m nuts soooo) to get caught up in that mindset to worry that I’m not making the most of every second, to convince myself that everyone else is doing summer better than I am. Every beautifully instagrammed coastal sunset becomes a reminder that someone is somewhere way prettier than I am and, oh, yeah, we’re another day closer to fall which is closer to winter which which is the WORST!
Anyone else ever feel like this?
You may recall from my Project 30 Q&A, which I’m sure you’ve all committed to memory by this point, I’m just so brilliant and wise, that I am making a concerted effort to s-l-o-w down and take every experience for what it is, to live in the moment instead of worrying about what’s to come or what’s already passed. Something about this quote spoke right to me, the image of summer hanging in mid-air became a reminder to pause and take in the scenery.
This summer has, in a lot of ways, been one of my hardest - work has been uncharacteristically stressful for the season and some behind the scenes family stuff (I do have some filter, you know! I am full of secrets!!) have been bringing a lot of pain and worry and heartache - but now that I’m pausing here and looking around, I’m realizing it’s also maybe been one of the best.
I may not be sipping rose on a dock in Nantucket but for what feels like the first time, and without really trying or stressing over it, I AM “making the most” of the season and all without leaving home. City folks like to say that we don’t need personal outdoor space, the city is our backyard! And that’s mostly just bullshit to help us justify our life choices but I gotta say, I’m really digging my “backyard” these days.
A private patio might be nice but so are bloody marys and buffalo chicken sandwiches at a neighborhood haunt…
...and certainly a personal backyard couldn’t deliver views like this:
(or the accompanying margaritas that come with it.)
You can take the train to boardwalk amusement parks….
….and to minor league baseball games which are fun even if they get rained out. And hey, you get free hats!
And just a few feet away from our front door is Prospect Park, where on Thursdays you can do outdoor yoga…
...and every other Wednesday there is a community 5K and if you’re really fast, you may even win a medal, which is great, but then your weird wife will make you awkwardly pose for a photo because she’s just so proud of you, but also so, so embarrassing…
… and on any other night of the week there might be an outdoor rock concert or a free screening of a hit film or even a symphony!
Or you can just grab a bottle of wine and some snacks and grab a patch of grass amid all of the other city folk enjoying their backyard and catch the tail end of the pee-wee baseball matches as the sun goes down over the city.
Or you can just stay home and sneak out the window and make your own little balcony there on the fire escape cum herb garden because city folk are a resourceful bunch and know how to make the most of every square inch of space.
(Also I’ve always really wanted to use “cum” in a sentence like that because LOLOLOLOL cum! Did you really think I could be sentimental and serious for this long and not even sneak in one childish sex joke?!)
I said this, too, in my Q&A (a really interesting literary technique is just to quote yourself a whole bunch) but every now and then I have these fleeting random moments where I’m sort of overwhelmed with gratitude for wherever I might be and I just think “remember this, remember this! This is your real life.”
I had one of those moments on Sunday night - I’d spent the day at Rockaway Beach, in Queens, with a few friends and Brian and we took the train home, tired and sunburnt and sandy and stopped on the way home to pick up clams and mussels for a seafood feast - to hang onto that beachy feeling. Before dinner we poured glasses of wine and climbed out onto our fire escape which Brian has cultivated into the most charming herb garden and it was breezy and dusk was falling and I thought to myself “This. This. This. Remember this!”
This summer has been hard, yes, but it’s also been pretty beautiful, too. I want to remember that. So here I am, pausing, remembering it.