Recently, in the New York Times, Melissa Kirsch shared some thoughts on the end of summer saying "We're in the down elevator." She referred to how summer was "visibly diminishing with each earlier sunset." And, she spoke about how it is good to be home -- or is it?
That article resonated with me. Summer seems to fly to quickly these days. And to be honest, that feeling didn't start with August but even as it was beginning. Summer just seems so short. My cousin Patty reminded me that when we were kids, summer seemed to last forever. It sure doesn't do that now.
Kirsch reminded readers of what I discovered when I took Rick home from the lake last month for his ride. There is just so much there. Not just the dust that accumulated while I was gone or the rug that I didn't vacuum before I left. There is the closet, stuffed with so tightly with clothes (some of which fit, some -- I'm not so sure), that I can barely squeeze in another hanger. Shelf after shelf of books. Cabinets of dishes and glass and pretty things. And don't start me on art supplies, even though I made a good stab at getting rid of those on the yard sale. It's downright overwhelming.
The irony of this is that at the lake my closet has maybe 10 hangers. In the dresser I share with Rick, only two drawers hold t-shirts, underwear and socks. If there is an excess of anything, it is swim suits. My summer reading shelf holds about a dozen books -- and I know won't finish those. And, I'm good with that. Contented.
Or, in Kirsch's words: "It’s good to be home, sure, but home is also absurd. Home, with its black-hole coat closet and dust-covered knickknacks and so very many condiments, is too much. A week spent living out of a suitcase and the concept of owning more than one sweatshirt seems silly. I keep thinking about the wise friend who told me that everything you buy makes everything you own less valuable."
I know my fall will include projects I'd rather not do -- cleaning the garage, doing something about the Scary Room, dealing with that overstuffed closet. I'd rather be sitting in a beach chair, splashing in the water or painting on the porch.
My house at home isn't large at all, but my cottage is smaller. Smaller is easier. And yet I find it hard to part with things I like. After all, if I didn't like them, I wouldn't have them in the first place.
And then, these last summer days at the lake aren't going quite as I planned. I just learned that I will have to start IV antibiotics when I get home from the lake, including one day in the hospital when they place the piccline and do the first dose. I knew Rick would be gone for several weeks this summer but I found how much I missed him. Art camp was supposed to begin but then was canceled. It has been cooler and windier than I like, cutting into swimming opportunities. I'm avoiding crowds and busy public places or events that I might otherwise attend because Covid numbers are up here and that's one thing I can't take a chance with right now. I never minded being "home alone" with just Lizzie for company but this summer I find it far more melancholy than in times past.
The summer my cousin David and I graduated from college was the last summer (until I retired) that my extended family spent completely at the lake. I remember talking with David on the beach one day and he said, "We aren't going to be able to do this again, spend all summer here." He was right. Big-Kid jobs and graduate school would fill up our days and our summers from then on. Only four years after that both of our mothers, the glue of our summers, would be dead. Our lives were changing quickly. We were growing up.
And now, our lives are changing again. We are growing older and while we may have summers at the lake again, returning to real life brings with it responsibilities and tasks that sometimes we'd rather not have. I realize how lucky I am to have a home, even its overstuffed closet, when so many have so little. And, that there are fewer years left to enjoy all that I love -- no matter where I am.
The elevator is indeed going down. I'm just not ready to go down with it.