Junior high registration is Tuesday, the ice cream social Thursday. The beginning of the end. I spent this week contacting various teachers of lessons and coaches of sports, setting up the fall schedule. In just two weeks, that will be us rising at 6:30, going to soccer practice and band. That will be us having regular family meals and brushing out teeth in unison at night.
As it’s never broken 100 and hardly gotten into the 90s all summer long, it’s never quite felt like it got going. There is corn now and peaches; I know that we are at this apex moment. And yet my body feels like we’re still warming up, getting ready for the real thing.
I am trying to remind myself of all of the things that happened that equal summer. There were the multiple drives to Camp Wapsie – first in a pouring rain in June to take the girls and then in a very cool July when I worried if Tobey had enough blankets and sweatshirts. There was the beautiful trip to Chicago with Tobey for film camp. The first night we had noodles at Joy Thai and again and again he stopped to say make an ‘mmmm’ noise and say how incredible they were. He looked at all of the gay guys walking by our cafe table, holding hands, kissing, and proclaimed, “This is a good experience for me.” We went to Blue Man one night and clapped and laughed, as I kept trying to get sideways glances of the nun standing next to me, wondering what she thought of the lengthy riff they do on shaking your booty. We had char burgers and “Kalamata chicken” at the Athenian Room, a restaurant my parents used to go to when they stayed in Lincoln Park. It’s a divey neighborhood spot attached to a bar where you have to go to get your drinks. The fries come floating in a special vinegar herb sauce. Tobey was dubious until he tasted one. Each day, we took the el, walking about six blocks from our rented apartment, getting off one stop later, and then walking another 10 blocks to the old theatre where the camp met. His script was chosen as one of the films to be made.
Earlier in the summer there was the Indigo Girls concert downtown. We were all there, but peeled away until it was just me. I found an old friend of Chris’ who was near the stage and we danced until the amazing encore of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Who knew I needed to dance to that song? At a little studio on the westside of town, there have been dance lessons, Chris and I stuttering our way through rumbas and foxtrots. And a memorable malted milk at Heyn’s with my kids. Last week, there were three nights in an old school cabin on a tiny lake in Luck, Wisconsin with a Monopoly game that never ended, floating on a blow-up air mattress across the lake while holding Chris’ hand, listening to Bella’s playlist that moved effortlessly between John Denver and John Legend, and then boating with Chris’ family on a bigger lake. We took beautiful pictures, all covered in mist from the splatter of the boat’s raucous joy.
I’d take another month, please, kind sir, if you’d give it. I have on my Oliver Twist voice now, and I’m imagining that we might ask earnestly and politely for just a bit more of this glorious, cricket-filled, peaceful time. Room in which to breathe. A few hotter days for bobbing about City Park Pool.
On the way up to Luck, WI we sang “100 Bottles of Beer.” We sang it all the way through, something I’m not sure I’d ever done. As we got lower, below 50 and then into the 30s and the 20s, I could feel the mood shift in the car. There was a very palpable energy of camaraderie and excitement that we were truly going to see this thing through. It wasn’t going to be like the half-completed Monopoly game or the chore chart idea that never stuck. All together, we were going to get to one.
As improbable as many of the great moments of our life are, this was one of the highlights of my summer. In a car, in the midst of beautifully rolling corn fields in northern Iowa, all of my family in a rented Chevy mini-van, gleefully singing toward the inevitable.