When I was a little girl, still in secondary school, summer went on forever. I remember days upon days of stillness, with the electric drone of insects accompanying me as I walked along the footpaths of the canal. The heat would lay on my skin like a wet blanket and hot tar stuck to the bottom of my bare feet when I walked the main road up to the post office. One day would slip into another, the sun always a big, bright yellow ball on my horizon. Everything was still. Dogs and cats lay in front yards in what shadows they could find, their breathing slow and labored with the heat. My mother kept the drapes drawn and the house dark because we didn’t have air conditioning. Dark was cool. At night, I would lay on top of my bed, with my legs in front of the open window and I would pray for a breeze to come through. That’s how I remember summer when I was growing up. It seemed endless.
But when it did end, what began was new and exciting. When I was little, the end of summer was when my mother would take me shopping for new school clothes, new notebooks and pencils, maybe even new shoes. September brought new classes and renewed friendships with classmates I never saw over the summer. The electric drone of insects would cease. Cats chased rats through the cornfields. Dogs chased bicycles through town. I would shut my bedroom window to keep out the crisp cool air. My mother would open the drapes.
Now as an adult, it’s not just Summer that’s gone but Time itself. Having no children and having been out of school for many years, Summer no longer means vacations or a time to relax. It’s just another season where my daily routine varies little. The end of summer now means the beginning of more traffic as almost 100,000 students take up residence in my town, the dodging of cars where the driver’s attention is more fixed on his cell phone than on the pedestrians in the cross walk. The end of summer means the beginning of legislative committee meetings where elected officials and their minions conspire to upend the quality of life for the average citizen while ensuring their own quality of life is improved. The end of summer means the beginning of the close of another year in a century that, when I was a child, was difficult to fathom.
When Summer has gone, the parking lots at my office building fill up with parents who have come back from their August vacations. They greet each other with stories of where they took their children, which states or countries they visited. I listen and remember the stillness of my childhood, the sense of Time moving so slowly that I thought I would never grow up. I was in such a hurry to grow up. If only I had known then what being an adult would be like, I would have embraced those Summers and wept when they were gone.