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Glimmers of Summers Gone By

When my daughter was going out with her lovely former boyfriend, she told me how his incredibly healthy and wholesome family zoomed every weekend and would go around the large large room and each person reported  a Hi-Lo. Best event of the week, the high, and most difficult part of the week, the lo.  And I thought what a remarkable family and what a thing to think about all week, what would your contribution be. I tried it a few times, just me and my guy, but because we don’t have five kids and their various partners and their overall wholesomeness  we’d struggle, have a glass of wine and call it done.

I’m not good with lists, with categorizing and assigning values to events. Good things happen, but I’m afraid to celebrate them too exuberantly, looking over my shoulder, waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s life and life only, yeah? There’s good, there’s great, there’s shit, and they all take turns and the best you can do – or the best I can do anyway, is roll with it.  When I was a kid I had a mantra, “soon this will just be a bad memory.” It’s how I got through the lows. Oddly, I don’t remember telling myself “soon this will be a good memory,” maybe coz you don’t have to tell yourself that, you just know it. And you do, even in the moment. I can remember so clearly, we were going to Rockaway Beach for the summer. The entire summer, we had rented a bungalow right on the beach block.  And it was THE DAY we were going, school FINALLY ended, 2 long delicious months right in front of us, we were loading up the car, and it was taking hours and hours and hours. I remember I was wearing a pink flowered skort dress, sleeveless with a ruffled collar. It was my favorite. I was dressed up for the trip to the shore. Maybe I thought I was in a Jane Austen novel, and was dressing for the carriage ride through the moors (in this case the Belt Parkway to the Marine Pkwy bridge) to finally arrive at the Sea for our summer sojurn.  I was ready and ready and ready. And it wasn’t happening.  How long did it take to load up the car, to gather our stuff, to lock the door and go already? What was everybody doing? Why weren’t we on the road? My pink dress was getting wrinkled and clammy, it was meant to catch the beach breeze, not stick to my skin as I looked at the cars going down east new York ave in front of all the concrete building that towered around us. It was meant to be a contrast to the big blue ocean sky, not the little patchs of grayish blue that leaked out between all the bricks and concrete that closed in around me. And then, and then, my mother called, “Simi, I need you to go to the bakery. Here’s the change, you know what to get.” Two lbs rye slice without seed. Now?

 Now? Why? But of course I knew why. We never ever not once ever left the house withough sandwiches.  They’d have to be made, wrapped, and carried, another bag to pack, another endless delay. But I went, happy at least to have something to do, something to make the time pass. And I remember, so clearly, walking back down the hill from Utica Ave, toward the house I couldn’t wait to leave, watching how my pink dress, so thin and light, almost like paper, moved as I walked back home, how there was a row of brownstones on one side of me, the pebbly dirty sidewalk beneath me, the gutter beyond with its flow of cars and trucks. I was able to see our house on the corner of the sortof perpendicular street I was approaching, but it was a diagonal, not a neat right angle, and I always liked that perspective, coming at it slant I guesss, though I was a long way from understanding any of that, then. I just liked it, and I remember thinking, I will remember this moment forever. I will remember this very early summer day when school was just out and I wore this thin pink skort dress and I was waiting and waiting and waiting for the day to move along so we could finally finally get to the beach. And when I remember it, the summer will already be over and time will have passed and maybe I’ll even be old and who knows what else, but I will remember this moment.


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