Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Days

I've begun writing a piece for a group that will meet next week.  The leader of the group has provided us with a prompt, inspiring us to recollect  a summer day from our youth and I was having a difficult time, digging deep and coming up dry every time.  My immediate thoughts were to find and describe a bucolic day, one that had sun, a gentle breeze and a lemonade stand. After a short stream of consciousness in which I had difficulty stringing those idealizations together,  I concluded  that I did not have one memory of a such a day.

The fact is, most of my summer day memories are overshadowed by thoughts of heat, humidity and too many hours filled with counting the days until the end of Summer rather than basking in the sun of one. Looking back, I have visions of myself, dressing on July mornings, preparing for the day ahead, exiting an air-conditioned train (should I wear a lightweight cotton sweater for the chilly ride in?) to a wall of stale heat and hung-over humidity before the longest four block walk on wide-open Park Avenue.  The sun had no place to hide and I'm sure it was always ten degrees hotter there than anywhere else on the island of Manhattan. The humidity of a July day was palpable.  It had a life of its own and as the train rounded the bend in track, just north of 125th Street, it hung above the East River like a giant roll of cotton gauze.

 I feel my feet, sinking into the pavement at Columbus Circle on the day I took my nursing boards in July of 1968.

  I see myself, standing on a subway platform, years later, a soft breeze filling the air space around my face as I fanned with an exquisite little hand bentilator that had been a gift from a Filipino friend.  I held that fan so tightly in the fear that I would be mugged for it.  It was black and white floral and I worshiped it.

And, I can't help but feel sorry for myself every time I think back to the days when, at the end of a "3-H" day, my hopes and dreams of a cool ride home crashed with the announcement of yet another air conditioning equipment break-down, causing the thirty minute ride to feel more like thirty hot and muggy years.

Waves of shock still grip me when I picture myself opening an invitation to a summer a August.  Or a "Look Out, it's a Cook Out" invitation for what I always knew would be the hottest day on record.  My fears would be unmatched when one would arrive, thoughtfully announcing plans for a poolside bash with the words "Grab Your Swimsuit" splashed across the top. There would not have been a cover-up large enough for the area I would have wanted to hide.

Years later find me totally unconcerned about my appearance at the pool party and utterly enchanted with the appearance of baby granddaughters in their bikinis.   I live worlds apart from the days when I was terrorized by the evening weather person announcing the next day's forecast, over and over "sizzler tomorrow, hazy, hot and humid". I live near the seashore now and I welcome those warm days, filled with sun, in a way that almost scares me.  I'm not sure if that is the reason behind my re-shaped memories of perfect Summer days or, could it be that on one, hazy, hot and humid August day, almost forty one years ago, my  whole world, not just my Summers, changed for the better, when I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl.

Sara and Lucy in Hawaii

1 comment:

  1. There were no picnics in a part, no times you played on the front yard in a summer rain, no swimmng lessons, no nasty boys dunking you in a pool, no bike rides, games of hide and seek, eating strawberry shortcake, burying someone in the sand at the beach, getting poison ivy, catching fireflies, climbing trees? Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh ...NYC WAS hot in summer -- those subway platforms, pure hell,yes, I know.