One of the saddest parts of late August is looking outside and realizing it’s starting to get dark before 8 p.m. Remember that feeling of euphoria in the early spring when sunlight was still lingering around dinner time? After a winter of seemingly endless darkness, the gradual extension of daylight was almost imperceptible. Then one day, you get home from work, and you can still catch the sunset.
As kids, we looked forward to summer because it liberated us from homework and classes. There were bicycles to ride, baseball games to play, pools to swim in and hanging outside late with your friends—under the street light, of course. I don’t think I used a pencil all summer, except to keep score at a ballgame.
AM radio was the soundtrack to our summer lives, repeating hits over and over. Even today, hearing certain songs takes you back to those hot, humid nights that we hoped would never end.
Back then, there were no concerns over wasting a summer. That’s what summers were for—to be wasted. No obligations, no responsibilities. As adults, rainy days might ruin your plans, but for kids, they sent us indoors for board games and bad horror movies on TV. We’d imagine ourselves as super heroes fighting bad guys or Captain Kirk commanding the Starship Enterprise. There were an unlimited number of diversions from the nothingness that is summer for a kid.
But as an adult, summer takes on a different meaning.
Unless you’re a teacher, July might as well be November because you still have to go to work. But during the summer, we adults seem to obsess over “doing something.” Whereas kids view the coming of September as an impending doom interrupting their good time, adults look at the coming of September to reflect on how much of the summer they wasted.
“Why didn’t we have more barbecues and enjoy our backyard?”
“How come we didn’t spend more time at the beach?”
“I never went on one bicycle ride or walked the boardwalk.”
“Are the free summer concerts over?”
Most of us have participated in more adult summers than kid summers, and several factors work against us fully enjoying those precious 92 days. For one thing, the unrelenting march of time for an adult seems to speed up as you get older. Sometimes, there aren’t enough hours in a day. You still come home from work on a Tuesday to prepare dinner. The house needs to be cleaned and laundry needs to be done. The only real difference is that when you start to wind down at 8 p.m., it’s still daylight.
Granted, there are weekday evenings you have an activity planned, but those are few and far between. Most of the time, your “get-up-and-go,” just “got-up-and-went.” One of summer’s nicest perks is the weather being pleasant enough to enjoy the twilight in your backyard. Unless, of course, you actually try to enjoy the twilight in your backyard. You quickly learn twilight happens to coincide with dinnertime for mosquitos.
As another summer slowly dwindles, we should look back at some of the fun we did have. We vacationed in New England, went to a free concert or two and, like everyone else on Long Island, lost many battles with the mosquitos. We had the occasional dinner with friends and did some swimming. I read a few books, smoked a few good cigars and gained more weight than I’d like to admit.
None of us really know how many more summers we have left, so I guess we really don’t want to waste them. But as kids, we were never concerned with wasting the summer. We just did what we wanted to do and nobody kept score. I stopped keeping score a long time ago, so I’m never disappointed.
Thanks for everything, Summer of 2018. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that we all get through this coming winter together and look forward to noticing when the days start getting longer again.
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award-winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.