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Billy and I have been taking it easy this first week back from vacation, and it’s been nice. We’ve been eating at home, which feels good in our wallets and in our waists. We’ve been cleaning house a little at a time so as not to waste a weekend having to do it all. We’ve had time to sit and enjoy what’s left of summer and still get to bed with enough hours left to sleep and dream. Tonight we even left the TV off and played cards, and even though we’re acting like we’re 90, it felt good.

It’s nice to slow down a bit and just be at peace. Even if only for a moment.

Yet another post about summer.

Every so often I have this dream. I wander into the backyard where I grew up and try to resuscitate the pool. We had a great big in-ground pool and I have some great memories swimming there. When my dad died, so did the pool. For a while it was just in disarray, and then it was a big hole, and then just before we moved, we filled it in with purchased fill and the playhouse my dad had built when we were little.

When I dream about the pool, it’s always green with algae and filled with muck. The concrete around it is cracked and covered in acorns and leaves. But I put the hard work into it and sweep away the detritus and pull out the teak patio furniture and get the water clear and swim-worthy again. And it is always a good feeling.

Summer feels like that to me. I finally get to swim in the clear water after a winter of hard work and metaphorical muck and grime. Today was just the kind of summer day I have been craving for what feels like years. I found a tree in the park and sat under it, reading, writing, knitting, daydreaming… I need more days like this in my life.

But I’ve also learned to appreciate these days when they come. I live for this. Hello, summer. Thanks for coming back.

Working in the Summer

I’m sitting here at my desk trying to review advertising without resenting the fact that I’m sitting here at my desk reviewing advertising while it’s 80 degrees outside with a cloudless blue sky and zero humidity. I’m not being terribly successful at this, obviously, since I am also writing about this very attempt at avoiding resentment instead of sitting at my desk reviewing advertising.

I keep thinking about the summers of my youth, when I had all the time in the world to run through sprinklers, pick strawberries, wade through creeks, dig meaningless holes in my father’s gardens, bike ride around the block 200 times without getting bored of it, climbing trees, eating salty french fries at the lake, playing with the dog, watching fireworks…. Now that I’m old enough and responsible enough to have an income to support my fantasies, I’m finding I don’t have the time to realize them. Instead I’m watching other people living my dream as I gaze at them from my 49th floor window. People eating ice cream or playing tennis or taking pictures or going on ferries, wearing sunglasses and t-shirts while I have to wear a goddamn sweater in my color-controlled, light-controlled, climate-controlled, fun-controlled cubicle.

Resentment? Nah. This is a party in here!

Still, I guess we are all responsible for our choices, and right now this is a choice I have to live with. Maybe I don’t have to like it, and maybe not liking it is a step to changing it so I do like it. And maybe it would be fair to realize that maybe what I see through the window isn’t reality, and that what’s in my memory may be somewhat selective. But goddamn. The summer is MY playground, and I haven’t been able to enjoy it the way I want in way too long.

Obviously I need to pick up and move my cubicle outside on the grass. Yes, I think that would be swell. And maybe a thatched roof and ceiling fan for hot days. I’ll talk to facilities to see what can be done.

Mr. Mallard

Mr. Mallard came to the park for his secret rendezvous, forgetting really why he was there. He stood there as conspicuously as he could, hoping the answer, literally, would come to him. As he waited, those curious animals walked by, some arm in arm, some yelling at one another, some eating (something which smelled rather fishy…). He watched, and waited. He preened himself a bit – always had to look his best, after all! And he pretty much just enjoyed the day. It was his favorite kind. Sun, some clouds, slight breeze… yes, a mallard could definitely make something of a day like this.

But what was that? Over there in the shadows? He ran over for a look. Eh, it was nothing, he supposed, and went back to standing and staring and waiting.

And that’s when it arrived. One of those small humans that barely knew how to walk. It saw Mr. Mallard and poor Mr. Mallard didn’t know what to make of him. He knew he’d been waiting for something, but not this! Definitely not this! He ran, blindly, and at last, feeling like he would never escape, lifted himself laboriously off the ground, knowing he’d miss the rendezvous and certainly hear about it later. But this! This was just not in the contract.

A few moments later, the sound of quacking could be heard in the park, and there was what we can only assume was Mrs. Mallard, there for their picnic. When she saw he wasn’t there – again – oh, boy, she let out a string of curse words that one can never repeat, not even in Duck. She paced and quacked and paced and quacked, and that’s when she saw me. She made a beeline straight for me. I didn’t know what to do, what to say, what to think! I don’t know Duck! How would I communicate with her?

She asked me things like, “Can you believe that guy?” and “What does a girl have to do for a little nookie?” And I just watched her and said, “I know what you mean, but please don’t bite my toes.” And she paced and walked away and then walked back and said some more unutterable phrases, and when she’d said her fill, she too was off into the wind.

I suppose Mr. and Mrs. Mallard are either together or apart tonight. It’s the story of their lives, really. Always in the mood, but never really having the right timing.

New Normal

I’ve been struggling with how much to share or not share about things that are going on with my mom, and have tried to err on the side of silence, out of respect for her privacy. But I think it would be fair for me to say that having to deal with anyone suffering with any mental illness or addiction or whatever is so not easy. There are so many ups and downs and unrealistic demands and what makes that hard is that they’re so unpredictable.

I’ve been doing my best to hold on tight on this crazy roller coaster ride and make the most of a crappy situation, but I’m not sure I’m doing a great job. There’s been a lot of ice cream and not much sleeping and some rather ill-advised shots. None of which have really helped improve the situation much at all.

It’s just hard for me, having already lost a dad, to be losing a mom too, and not just any mom, but honestly the best mom ever. It’s not that anymore, though, and every time I think I’m getting the hang of the new normal, something else happens to throw me off. I could really use a break. Sadly, none are forthcoming.

But the ice cream I just ate was pretty good.

For Cynthia

For Cynthia

Originally uploaded by Caitlinator

When I was little, the only way I could remember the name of the pretty yellow flowers on all the bushes in the backyard was by naming them Cynthia. I was always happy when they bloomed, a sure sign that the dreary winter was finally ending and summer was soon on its way.

It’s no secret that I’m a summer girl at heart, but the forsythia bushes still make me smile, and soon when the dogwoods start to bloom, I will know spring is truly here.