Taking Back Summer
I love the smell of tar in the morning. Slowly I wake up with this bitter scent swirling in my nose. The house shakes slightly as a crescendo baritone of a rumble echoes outside. My heart beats faster as I run to the window. Swirls of orange dance in my mind. Bright, florescent orange. The color of a Dubuque summer.
Then I hear it, the unmistakable, high-pitch beep of a dump truck in reverse. “They’re here!” my pre-pubescent voice screeches. I grab my miniature yellow and green canvass lawn chair and a blue Tupperware cup of cherry Kool-Aid before rushing outside to enjoy the glorious show of summer road construction.
But that was then. Now, as a half-assed adult running late to work, I am speeding down Pennsylvania Avenue (or Asbury or University…) when I see it: that awful, Satanic color orange. “Son of a !@#$%”, I yell as the migraine-inducing beep of a dump truck in reverse pierces my ears. I punch the steering wheel as sweat gathers along my furrowed brow. The clock continues to run and I begin to wait.
Relenting to the superiority of the orange cone, I place my car in park, recline my cushioned chair, and take a gulp of coffee. Looking at my reflection in the crooked rear-view mirror I ask out loud, “What happened? Who stole summer?”
Summer used to be a season of relaxation and simplicity. Summer was sandlot baseball, corn on the cob, cross-country road trips, a day at the pool, new loves and staying up all night. Although school, homework and early bedtimes consumed the rest of the year, summer was ours. It was a time to live life on our terms.
But what happened? Now summer is just more of the same. Full-time work, over-air conditioned offices, too hot days, not enough nights, and quick weekend getaways. Who took summer? I demand to know.
Is it the villain employment? Although work is always a popular scapegoat, we ultimately choose our jobs. Is it the fault of that menace called aging? Even though growing older is unavoidable, growing up is a preventable mental condition. Perhaps family and community responsibilities are to blame? Yet, do we not also have a responsibility to our own well-being?
Ultimately, there is no one to blame but us. We took summer away and therefore only we can give it back. Instead of the perpetual excuse of other things to do, we shall use these last weeks of summer as an excuse to do nothing except live summer as summer must be lived.
Dust off the ball glove, find a new book, head to the pool, stay up all night, sleep all day or get drunk on a Monday. Regardless of age, summer is our time; the time to revert into our inner-child and live a carefree existence.
When you see me outside in the middle of the afternoon sitting in my lawn chair with Kool-Aid stained lips and mesmerized by the orange cones serenading my street, you’ll understand. I have reclaimed what is rightfully mine. I have taken back summer.