It’s because when you’re a child, June represents two intertwined events: the end of the school year and the beginning of summer weather. Each event signals the other’s arrival. So when the first sustained stretch of summer warmth comes along, I always remember what it made me think about when I was a teenager.
Maybe you’d guess that I was thinking about spending time at the beach. Nope – never liked being on a crowded beach in the heat; still don’t. Maybe you’d guess that I was just glad to be away from school. Nope – I mean, that was kind of nice, but I didn’t particularly hate school.
No, in my teenage years, summer brought with it the recognition of my coming adulthood. I treasured the fact that I had carefree days in sunlight and good weather that I didn’t have to spend sitting in an office or working on a production line. For it seemed to me at the time that this was what happened when you got out of school – you got a regular, necessary job that was probably some degree of yucky. Maybe you got married and had kids in addition to the job. And those relaxing days in the sun? Those games of catch with your brother? Those long bike rides to no place in particular? They were over, and there was no guarantee that you were going to prefer having a job and a family of your own.
As things turned out, my teenage view was an oversimplification of the available options. To this day, I have neither a wife nor children. Not that I’ve ever formally sworn off either one, but well… let’s just say I got busy doing other things. And that’s okay. I’ve never based my hopes and dreams on any supposed white picket fence and family – which is probably a big reason why it hasn’t happened.
As for the work situation – it’s certainly true that I’ve had a regular office job for the past two decades. And while my work isn’t something I’d choose to do free of charge, I have to say that the field I’ve gotten into is a good deal more interesting and stimulating than the images from my worst teenage fears. As for my personal life, I have a short list of truly wonderful Friends and a long list of delightful friends (note the use of upper and lower case). And as it turns out, I still have an active creative life that is at least as big a part of my life as my regular job. To sum up, I would feel like quite a spoiled little idiot if I were to complain about my life’s fortunes.
Still, that old thought pattern from years ago has worn a sort of groove into my brain. So June has arrived and I find my thoughts once again drifting to that wistful view of summertime. It’s almost as if my teenage self had been feeling a pre-emptive nostalgia for the days of summer I imagined I was losing. Yet here I am, in what can fairly be called middle age, and guess what? I still enjoy my summer days. It’s the season when I can fully indulge in my favorite form of exercise – walking. It’s the season when the plant world is alive and thriving, even if in seeming defiance of the scorching sun. I still smile when a warm breeze comes off the lake and tousles the hairs that yet bravely cling to my scalp. I can truly say that I enjoy summers more now than I ever did in my youth. I have one simple message to pass along: Summer is there, yes it’s there… if you want it. Today, I will not make room for cynicism. I will not speak of personal heartaches and misfortunes, either in the lives of those close to me or myself. Let those comments flit past my door today and roost on someone else’s website. Maybe tomorrow we’ll be open for business again. But today, it’s June. The summer is here and it won’t be leaving anytime soon. I commend it to your attention.