On Friday, I posted this on Facebook:
Some people “liked” it and others commented. My friend Megan said “There is nothing more awesome than that first time you put on jeans and a sweater without a coat. That means the weather is perfect. Ok, there are a couple more awesome things but you know what I mean.” To which I replied “And then you have a beer. And then it is perfect.” A bunch of other folks chimed in with similar sentiments.
This morning, my friend Marcus posted the following on my Facebook wall:
Leaving aside Marcus’s obvious exaggerations – worst case scenario sees spring return to Chicago in May and I spent many a joyous, sunny, warm afternoon on our back porch during my March to May layoff – I get where he’s coming from on this. The window is small. The days that call out for the beach or the pool are too few. Entire days that leave you thinking “Being outside today was great” are few in number.
And that’s exactly why I’m charging straight into fall.
I used to be a bit of a summer hater. Some of this is due to lifestyle issues; I used to hate wearing shorts and my pale, skinny body wasn’t exactly suited to temperatures and activities that exposed both to the sun or the gaze of others. Plus, when you’re a kid, summer rules. When you’re an adult, not so much. It’s hard to sit in an office and think about all the fun you could be having outside especially when you’re in clothes that are better suited to air conditioning. But last summer was a joke. It truly didn’t get acceptably warm until June and once fall arrived it felt as if the days that psychologically help you to prepare for the long winter ahead barely filled a week, much less a season.
So this year I embraced summer and didn’t complain even as the month of June dumped rainstorm after rainstorm on us and the month of August had me sweating through my button-down shirts as I walked to the train. I didn’t discover Phineas and Ferb until the mid-point of the summer but the theme song was exactly where my head was at:
(I don’t think I saw anything as poetic this summer as those first few seconds when the pages of the calendar drift off into the sun…)
I also started this summer unemployed after a work experience that taught me you can work as hard as you like at a job and it still won’t counterbalance a situation in which you’re set up to fail. I had the support of friends and family and spent that entire time hustling to find a new job. When I started work again two months later, I wondered if I’d misspent some of my time, not taking advantage of the warmth and the willingness of those around me to understand a desire to sit on my ass and do nothing but bask in a day of nothing to do. But I’m not that guy. I’m the guy who says “What are we going to do today?” And I had a great summer for it.
So I’m not celebrating the end of summer at all. But I’m also not going to mourn it either.
Fall tends to be when everything begins anew for me. Fall is when I started high school and resolved to become the person I knew I could be, not the person my junior high classmates thought I was. Fall is when I went to Ohio University after a summer of recovering from a life-threatening infection brought on by appendicitis and fell in with a group of people who became lifelong friends and gave me the chance to be a true leader. Fall is when I first fell in love. Fall is when I got married for the second, and last, time knowing full well I got it right. Fall is when we bought our house.
Then there are all of the lifestyle things about fall. Hot coffee, soup, chili and yes, scotch all go better with fall. I, like Megan, love sweaters and jeans. There’s a lot less sweating in fall and since sitting outside this past August wasn’t much fun on many occasions thanks to the humidity and the omnipresent mosquitoes, I’m looking forward to a few weeks of doing just that and enjoying all of the above.
Yes, fall means winter is coming. Winter in Chicago is rough, no question. Most years it has me cursing my existence come February. But I always consider it the price of admission for living in a city that I love the rest of the year. Of course, this year winter – February, specifically – is going to bring the birth of my daughter. So perhaps I have even more of a desire than others to dive into the next five months.
This summer taught me to embrace what’s right in front of you. As I type this I’m in our upstairs office with the windows open and a teasing breeze is gently making its way through from the open windows. I’m about to go outside and spend the better part of the next two hours tending to my lawn (which, frankly, this summer’s hot temps ravaged all to hell) then sit back and admire a job well done. This afternoon we’re going to a party with some friends. And I’m off of work tomorrow so I’ll sit on my back porch and read a book cover to cover. It’s 70 degrees outside right now and it’s supposed to be 85 tomorrow.
I don’t wish for there to be fewer days like this. I just know all the excitement and possibilities that come from putting them behind me for another year.