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The Cure

By: onipar
Photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash

The summer heat has me firmly in its stifling grip, and I’m torn between craving an end to this torment and dreading the season’s demise, because just like when I was a kid the end of summer means a return to school (in this case as a teacher). I’ve often been torn in this way about summer. On the one hand, it’s supposed to be everyone’s favorite season. Warm weather, beaches, vacation, ice cream, fairs, and all the good things that come along with a wide open collection of carefree months.

Yet, even as a kid, there would come a time during summer vacation when these positive things turned on me. The pleasantly warm weather would become unbearably hot. The long stretch of carefree days became boring and empty with nothing to do. Money ran out for fairs and ice cream. Friends abandoned me.

I remember one particular summer in Brooklyn when none of my friends were around. A couple of them went to camps and others were off on vacation. Some had plans or weren’t coming out to play for whatever reason and all these years later I still remember that dreadful, empty feeling of staring out my bedroom window, wishing for someone to hang out with. Praying for something to do. I felt lost and alone in an endless summertime terrarium, secluded and imprisoned. I felt like dead Bernie being dragged around by my parents, trying to get me to feel alive again.

There was this sense that everyone else was off having fun while I stewed and suffered. I hated the feeling because it was the antithesis of what summer should be. Previous years of my childhood had always been so effortless. Every day was, to steal a line from Alice Walker, “…a golden surprise that caused excited little tremors to run up [my] jaws.” And yet there I was, perhaps on the precipice of adulthood, staring over the expanse, realizing the world wasn’t always going to be so easy. Summertime wasn’t always going to be a golden surprise.

I tried to erase these dreadful ideas with trips to the corner store, a few plays on Street Fighter II, a rented movie or NES game, a bike ride to the park. All the things that had always made me happy. All the things I could count on to fill my days with wonder. Maybe a lemon Italian Ice from the vendor at the corner would help. Or chasing after the ice cream truck as is glided by the apartment, its tinkling song playing like a music box on wheels.

The Eddie Cochran song tells us that there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues, but if there was a cure, our childhood selves would find it as surely as we’d uncover the prize at the bottom of our cereal box. Because we were not yet adults, and we were resilient, and we certainly wouldn’t let a few boring days without friends ruin our one chance at summer vacation.

I remind myself of those days when I feel the summertime blues come for me as an adult. When the sun is shining too bright, the fun activities are waning, and all I can see is a lawn that needs to be mowed and gutters that need to be cleaned. I step away and project my mind back into that childhood self who would never fixate on sadness for long. Not when there were video games to be played, abandoned streets to be explored, parks to be traversed, and ice cream to be eaten.

Photo by Rajesh Rajput on Unsplash

I get my adult work done and when dusk finds me with a cool breeze and the playful light of fireflies, I free myself once more.

I breathe deep of the night, and of summer, and of life.

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onipar Posted on Jul 26, 2022 at 09:27 PM

Oh yeah, I can relate to that list as well. Today at least cooled down a bit, though that only meant I had to get some yard work done.

Benjanime Posted on Jul 26, 2022 at 06:39 PM

i'm with you on this, i too have been half and half with a summer experience during the years.

1. rarely able to get my friends to come along with me somewhere
2. my stepdad deciding to roll down the car windows instead of using AC
3. going to a theme park, only for my parents to argue about something dumb

onipar Posted on Jul 26, 2022 at 01:47 AM

That's so true though, when there's nothing else to do, we nurture our imaginations all the more fervently. I remember an episode of...I dunno, maybe Sesame Street, maybe Pee Wee's Playhouse, that was all about the things you can do inside when it's rainy out. I try to drag that kind of mindset along with me no matter how many years pass.

Ah, yeah, and Halloween beckoning from the rafters helps too!

Vaporman87 Posted on Jul 25, 2022 at 08:45 PM

Ahhh. Very nice. I feel you. I feel you. Yeah, it's become quite hot and stuffy in these dog days of Summer. Vacation has passed, and now it's just a countdown to our annual Fair. After that, the pivot to Halloween is instantaneous. Doesn't matter what the calendar says... as far as I'm concerned, Halloween season is here.

I definitely had many a beautiful summer day that felt wasted, alone. You tend to forget all those days, your memory favoring the good times. And living where I did, I could not just escape to town for some much needed distraction. I was stuck where I was. That probably helped nurture my imagination. Having to come up with my own fun... somehow.

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