Day after day, day after still day,
The summer has begun to pass away…
-from Summer’s Elegy, by Howard Nemerov
I can’t be sure, but I think we’ve come to the part of the summer where we’re tilting a little too heavily toward the fall. You can almost see September if you squint. So I won’t, though I do feel like I’ve been put on notice:
Attention! Laurie! Have as much fun as you can in the next three weeks! Get to the movies! Go camping! Sleep in! Make bonfires!
It’s like my mother giving me the ten-minute warning before it’s time to get out of the pool.
For me, this is a serious warning because fall hits hard around these parts with lots of classes happening here and a schedule that begs me to get some sleep and take care of myself. There are big personal changes afoot too; both my girls will be going to school in Colorado this year, one in Boulder, the other in Leadville, which means the empty nest has landed – a little earlier than expected.
After I return from taking them to Colorado, I’ll enter that new phase, which is sort of an old phase – the phase I had before I met their dad, before one became two, became three, became four. I’m going back to one now. It’s daunting, it’s a little scary, but I think I can do it.
I have a memory of this moment before I married their dad, 100 years ago. I was living on the third floor of this building, in a tiny studio apartment in Oakland. It was essentially one small space that combined a bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom. You couldn’t have much of a party up there, though I do remember 6 women crowding around my dining room table one night wearing tiaras and holding champagne glasses, so clearly there was room for the important things. The selling feature of the place was one big bay window that opened out onto this huge walnut tree in the back. You could practically touch the branches. That was all I needed; some breeze, some light and this tree.
One early evening, I was on my way out the door. I’d left the window open and the music on, which I often did, for my cat Dicky. Halfway down the stairs, I realized I’d forgotten something, so I turned around, went back up, unlocked my door, and as I opened it, I was met by the most shimmery, golden, fluttering light – like Aspen leaves in the wind. And music – the most beautiful music. My apartment was having a party and it didn’t even need me to be there. I remember thinking, “I made this.”
I cherish that memory. It’s almost thirty-years-old, but it reminds me that I can make it again. I can make a world of light and sound and magic even if it’s just me.
If you’d like to join me in filling the house with sound and light – a magic that is medicine and that will fill you as it fills me – consider signing up for a Wild Writing class this fall. And if you live far away, check out the live online options.
Till then, squeeze that summer dry!