Many years ago it struck me that summers were much like weekends. That’s when I began talking about summer vacation in dial-of-a-watch terms.
For starters, there’s the last days of June after school releases. They are that sweet stretch of hours known as “Friday night.” The weekend lies before you, vast and seemingly endless as the Territories Huck Finn lit out for so long ago when he’d had enough of civilization.
On Friday night, one doesn’t even think in terms of the weekend ending because, well, it’s too big to end. You are as carefree as a man with no possessions to possess him, no responsibilities to tether him, no cares to drag him down.
Then comes July, the “Saturday” of the summer weekend metaphor. Like Friday, you are in full weekend mode, as entitled as a helicopter parent’s pampered child. Time? Of the essence? Maybe somewhere, but nowhere in any area you can see. The summer remains a horizonless gift, a blessing bestowed upon you and you alone. The world is at your feet, a genie asking your command. You don’t even have to burnish the ego that is its lamp.
August. Now you’ve hit Sunday. Early August, the dog days, isn’t so bad. It is as lazy as a Sunday morning where you roll over, pull the covers about your head, and skip church. Then high noon — August 15th — strikes. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, and all that.
After the 15th, the metaphor grows more concise. The third week of August is late Sunday afternoon, and your mind begins to become fenced in by its own rebellious thoughts. “Work,” they whisper. “In the morning.” The sun has set and night creeps in as the August calendar twenty-somethings you to death slowly. Like a Cinderella who gladly forgot her bargain with the Devil, dreams about school beset your vagabond heart.
August 31st — midnight — tolls twelve times, and you realize that these last weeks of “vacation,” no less a time off than the last days of June, just aren’t the same. They are hectored, taunted, half-ruined by a restless brain coming to terms with the inevitable “Monday morning” of summer, the first day of a new school year.
Yeah. It’s like that. A weekend coming to terms with its own mortality.
So I’m here to appreciate the upcoming final bell of Monday — the last five minutes of an old school year — because Friday nights are sweetest, and I’m about to bite in to that ripe watermelon of the summer weekend, Friday night, paying no mind to the rinds of late August that I know lie in some field ahead.
Not yet, anyway….