In Which I Wax Philosophical As Summer Speeds By…

One minute you’re waiting impatiently at Baggage Claim at the airport for your daughter to step off the plane and begin her summer vacation. While you wait, you fantasize about all the fun things you’ll do together: a couple of day hikes, floating leisurely around in the criminally underused backyard swimming pool, a little shopping, cooking her favorite meals together.

Next thing you know, she’s back at college for her sophomore year. Unbelievable though it seems to me, Rachel is already back at school. She arrived about ten days before the start of classes because she is an orientation advisor for incoming freshman.

Within hours of her arrival on campus, we were Skyping. She wanted to show us her new room in a 2-bedroom on-campus apartment, which she will share with 3 other young women; the bedrooms are doubles. The kid knows how to decorate, that’s for sure, and at lightning speed. Posters up on the walls, desk set up, bed made. Don’t know how long it will stay that way, but at least she’s getting off to a great start.

 It’s much nicer than her dorm room last year (which was smaller than her bedroom at home, and had to accommodate two people instead of one), and this year’s roommate is an improvement over last year’s as well from what I can tell.

She looks pretty happy, wouldn’t you say? (I’ll have to do a “Before and After” shot once classes have actually started, and this one is definitely the Before!)

Summer has gone by incredibly fast for us. I feel like I missed out on most of it because even when my daughter was home, I was often back east helping out with my parents during their recent health crises. So although it’s only mid-August, I have the nagging feeling that summer is already over. Adding to that sensation is our recent weather; northern California has had an unseasonably mild summer… and my usually prolific vegetable garden is showing a definite failure to thrive as a result!

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of days when the temperatures went above 90 degrees so far. And where I live, just east of San Francisco, our summers are usually termed “semi-arid,” that is to say very dry and hot, hot, hot. At least we still have September and October to come, and those are months when we often have warmer days. So there’s hope.

Our family vacation was all too short, but we’re lucky that we even had the time and the resources to take one.

 The fact that we went in the off-season to a part of the world that is reportedly lovely during the winter, but during the summer months not so much, coupled with the fact that I succumbed to a long-ish bout of what I will politely term “intestinal distress,” does not take away from the fact that we were able to relax together as a family for the first time in many months.

And now it’s over… yet September always seems like the beginning of the year to me rather than a month that is technically closing in on the end – 4th quarter and all. All those years we spend in school do something to our hard wiring, I’m convinced. When I see “September” on the calendar, I start making fresh plans and starting exciting new projects… I invariably go out and buy myself a little notebook with a pretty cover, and a shiny new Pilot rolling ball fine point pen (dark blue or black ink, please), just because. Just because it’s September, and I can’t resist. Who’s to say what will fill that little notebook, or what brilliant words I might write with that new pen with its crisply flowing ink? Life is just redolent of Possibilities in September.

In Office Max the other day, I dallied for way too long by the school supplies – all those fabulous notebooks, folders, and pens! – even though I had gone there in search of more mundane office supplies. School supplies have gotten so much more interesting and attractive since I was in school!

Hoards of kids and their parents were squabbling over which looseleaf binder to buy (our schools open next week, for those of you back east where Labor Day weekend marks the official end of summer break), which mechanical pencil and calculator, and seeing them made me deeply nostalgic and envious – I loved shopping for school supplies with Rachel, and now those days are over.

Parents’ Weekend at her college is a month and a half away, but I’m already looking forward to it!

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  1. It’s odd, but I’ve always felt that way about September. Even though I haven’t been in school for many years as a student, there’s something so promising and hopeful about all those school supplies displayed in stationery and office supply stores.

  2. What a lovely, bittersweet post! I just love the talk of possibility in September, with its fresh notebooks and pens. Since I started working full time after college, I’ve had a really hard time feeling a sense of ending/beginning at any time of the year. Part of it is the lack of seasons in San Francisco (the nice falls are just too little, too late); part of it is that I never seem to have enough vacation to take off more than 4 days at a time; part of it is that work is pretty much the same all year. But I’m really trying to be conscious of summer beginning and ending this year – doing summer activities, eating seasonal fruit, etc. – and hopefully I’ll feel some renewal in the coming months!

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