One of my favorite songs mourning the end of the summer is Don Henley’s classic 1984 anthem, The Boys of Summer (check it out here ). Every time I hear it I have California memories of dark, tanned skin, convertibles, Pacific Ocean waves, and Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses. Summer love. The beach at night, bonfires lighting the waves that met us at the shore. Parties that lasted until dawn followed by breakfast at the all-night diner. I guess that’s why it’s so hard to believe we are already at the end of the summer of 2020. I don’t need to tell anyone that this was a summer like no other. That many of those things we love and celebrate in the summer didn’t happen this year.
As I write this August has slipped into September by the light of the full moon and I can feel the change in the air. Oh, the days are still hot but as we move into the evening I feel the soft cool tendrils of air from the mountains and the Puget Sound, the sun sinking into twilight earlier every day. Autumn is coming, I sense it in the crispness of the morning breeze and see it in the fruit trees, dropping their bounty as they relax into fall as well. The beautiful flowers that have graced my garden for months are slowly dropping their blooms, slowly drying and going underground, preparing for a long winter’s nap. There has been a sameness to our days for months now as we try to outrun and outwit this pandemic. Some days feel more victorious than others. I see the change in front of me but sometimes the end of the week or the end of the month has magically appeared and I feel a little disoriented.
It’s hard to stay positive and encouraged when the future is so uncertain. Of course, none of us are ever guaranteed any kind of future, that fact has been more relevant than ever these past months. Yet despite that we made plans, we booked trips, we organized gatherings, we expected that the future would meet our expectations. It’s easier to forget that we only have today when our planners and calendars are filled with appointments and wine dates, with milestones and with excitement for a far off event. And too there has been a seismic shift these past few months as people have once again risen up against injustice and hate and have met those very things standing against them in their rising. The political situation strikes a cold spear to my heart and there are days when all seems lost.
This summer has changed us all. This summer has brought out some true colors, not all of them beautiful and comforting and harmonious. This was not the summer I could ride with the top rolled down on my car and my Ray-Bans on. To sit at the beach with the bonfire reflecting on the powerful ocean waves. But this summer brought me something else. A strength I forgot I had. A willingness to get involved and to speak out. A desire to be on the streets with those marching for justice and a fair shake at the American dream. This summer my friends have written beautiful, inspiring music (take a listen to this powerful song and video called Same Old Story by my good friend, Alison Reynolds ). Incredible art on canvas and on street walls. This summer has brought a reckoning on who we are as people and what we value. On who we want to lead us and represent us to the rest of the world.
There was an old joke that circulated in the months after 9/11. It stated that if we didn’t go to bars/dance in the streets/live our lives as we used to/etc/etc then the terrorists had won. I kind of felt that way this summer. I felt that if we didn’t follow our conscience, open our eyes and our hearts and stay true to ourselves then this pandemic and all of its fallout: quarantine, lost economy, so many dead, social distancing, masks around our friends and loved ones; has won. That hate has won. That the lies we are being fed by those who were elected to represent us has won.
My husband and I have set created some new traditions in this new normal. Each night we meet on our deck for a happy hour and to talk. We turn on music and turn off the news and our phones. Despite being housebound there are days when we barely cross paths. I am fortunate to still be working albeit from home and he takes care of the house and garden. We venture out to the stores once a week, masks securely around our mouths and noses. We have rare social distancing gatherings with our friends. We visit our children on Zoom and on the phone. We talk a lot about faith, about believing in things unseen or hoping for things not yet in our reality. We need to remind ourselves that this too shall pass.
Both Don Henley and I have grown older and maybe his days of summer will never again match his wonderful memories from the 80’s either. But it’s okay. It’s time to move on into our brave new world. I hope he will write more songs of summers and love. Maybe about the summer we all just experienced. We just have to have faith.