Late August. Time for the annual panic, “oh no, the school year’s about to start.” I’ve been walking around saying this summer has felt particularly odd because of the cool weather. Lies.
Summer is just never long enough for me. If it isn’t cool temps, it’s temps that are too hot, or too rainy, or too many obligations or too many deaths. Just not enough, which is an old and familiar song for me. The theme of much of my writing, the guilty chorus that whispers about my parenting, the peek at my word count at the end of each day’s writing session, the ever ready want of more.
The other day I went with Nerd Child and Flower Child to my godson’s Eagle Scout ceremony. Induction? I don’t know, scouts aren’t a big thing here in Manhattan. My suburban friends reassure me that scouting exists here in the city, but I’ve never met any beyond a small, half hearted cub scout group when Man Child was in 1st grade, disbanded by Christmas.
It was very sweet–though I know better than to use the word sweet in relation to an almost seventeen year old boy– and made me feel old and nostalgic. We took the train to Brooklyn and the Scout’s grandmother, where I sat with my kids on her couch in the living room I spent hours in as a teenager. Not too many people from my past have stayed in Brooklyn, let alone the same house, so it was very alternate reality feeling. We met up with a friend and traveled the rest of the way to Long Island. There I saw more friends, and watched my kids goof around with theirs, and felt the absence of a good friend’s son who passed away last summer.
Obviously more goes into the Eagle Scout thing than I understand, Godson and parents were very, very proud. Local politicians and reps attended and gave brief speeches and congratulations. A snapshot of a lovely moment.
I also missed Man Child. Between boarding school and college he’s been away a lot, and I did get to see him this summer, but he’s already back in the dorm. This is the first time he hasn’t come home to be “home” over a break, and it’s damned weird.
Kind of maudlin today, aren’t I? Did get to the beach with Flower Child yesterday, which felt good, but didn’t quite recharge me in the way I had hoped. A family of three, two parents and a little girl of about 4 years old settled next to us. I couldn’t believe the amount of shit they had with them for two hours at the beach. Six towels, two large shade umbrellas, three huge bags of toys, sunscreen, and snacks: three people. The little girl was covered neck to calves in one of those bathing suit/lycra sun coverall things. I swear Flower Child and I saw bathing suits that looked just like it in the museum last year, what women wore at the turn of the twentieth century. This was not a fair skinned family, but you would think they were albino (am I politically incorrect, is there a more current term?) with the amount of sunscreen they slathered on. I’m not going to mention their little disagreement with the lifeguards about the safety of their sweet pea, and the rule against life jackets/swimmies in the ocean. I know it seems counterintuitive to the Backyard Pool crowd, but really. Big waves, riptides, small children, you don’t want them at all out of reach and where they can’t safely stand.
I know we’re all so much safer than previous generations, fewer kids will find themselves in the dermatologist’s office with a skin cancer diagnosis, but widespread Vitamin D deficiencies weren’t a thing when I was using baby oil and iodine instead of SPF 8000, either.
Listened to Creedance Clearwater Revival on the way home, remembered when that was my favorite beach music. When I had to turn the tape over it was time to flip and freckle my other side. I used to work odd hours, at the time I lived in South Brooklyn and worked in either Manhattan or downtown Brooklyn. In the summer, if I was working overnights I’d leave work and head straight for the beach, get a few hours of sleep and sun before heading home to eat, nap, and go back to work. Swing shifts, I’d get up early, get on the train and go back to sleep on the beach, leaving just enough time to shower before work. Thinking a lot about those days as I work on Astonishing, tapping into those old work experiences and certainties that I would, when I was ready, be a published author.
It’s ok, you can laugh, there was no internet then to tell me that isn’t how it works.