when I was a kid and a teenager, I hated summer – of course, I always loved the time off of school, but otherwise, summers were just heat and yardwork. summer in Southern California is a time when the temperature regularly climbs over 90 degrees and the air is thick with orange haze. I remember looking up at the mountains, and you wouldn’t have known they were there, for all the smog.

but here summer is a season to anticipate…after a long dark wet winter, it comes with clear blue skies and bright green everything. a very hot day is 85 degrees, and there are lots of nice days in the 70s. today, the first day of summer, the sun came up around 5 am and set after 9 pm.

and over the last 9 years, summer has come with a burst of sensuality each year. Greyson used to remark, when he still lived here, how as soon as the sun came out, the cute boys took off their shirts. 🙂

for the last 5 summers, I’ve shared my summers with C, going out to the river, down to Chambers Creek, to the beach, etc. in some vague sense, I know it’s summer when I throw his grandfather’s threadbare yellow plaid shirt over a tank top and jump in the car for a day in the sun. and that pattern makes me totally happy.

but there’s this echo of times past as well, the summers when Heather was the first thought in my mind – one summer when I eagerly anticipated each letter that had come from so far (would it have been email, had it happened now? that almost makes me sad, thinking of all the lovely quirkiness of her missives) – one summer when we went driving, riding beside her in her little old car, out to the Point for long walks along the beach and in the woods, then back to Cafe WA (long closed now) to talk and drink root beer, peeling the labels from our bottles. she worried about him, about their relationship, and all the time I was there, waiting, but too young/foolish/shy to speak my mind properly, her too young/oblivious/shy to notice. or something.

today we went to the river again – a little ways away from where I sat, I could hear drumming, and I walked up the river to see a young pair, a man and a woman – he with the fierce demeanor of a Celtic warrior, if in plaid shorts, she looking like Cate Blanchett, but a little younger, browner, in halter top and shorts…they were both redheaded. I stood in the river for a while, listening to their ferocious drumming – a little tribal, a little marching band. 🙂

and thought about 6 years ago, working at the CMT, the summer when I was so cruel to Kat, the summer that seemed to be so auspicious for Edith and K, the summer when Greyson and I were so close, and yes, the summer of my brief conjunction with Walter, that gave me the nucleus of my other, also-unfinished novel…. sometimes I feel that was the last time in my life when I was really wild and open to life, and the first time I had a taste of wildness without being dragged or cajoled into it by Raul. [edit: going outside and staring up at the almost-full moon reminds me that it was the same summer that I went swimming in Lake (Union? Washington? I can never remember which is which) after going to the $3 gay cinema (Wizard of Oz?) and Kat and I howled at the moon while bobbing in the lake.]

steal the kiss postcards to the one i
miss forever the one i miss forever dont you write
it down remember this in your head dont take a
picture remember this in your heart

(and of course there was the whole Joy thing, but that was really at the end of the summer, and it seems vague and insubstantial now anyway.)

so go out and howl at the moon. I’ll be out dancing on the back lawn of a house I hope never to see another summer in.