Summer Rhythm

Summer is my least favorite season. I wilt in the heat and sunburn in about 17 minutes. While I love the feel of sand on my bare feet, I hate it everywhere else, especially in my eyes and the kids’ sandwiches and all over the dog. These are the days I wonder whether Los Angeles is really an ideal place for me to live.

To be terribly honest, I don’t do especially well with extended stretches of unstructured time. I have a fantasy that this summer will be gentle and easy, with time to read leisurely, take the kids to a bunch of movies, and spend relaxing hours on the beach. I envision playing board games or putting together a puzzle, or finally finishing that scrapbook. Maybe now I will have the time and energy to sort through old files and clear out the garage. I do not daydream about nagging my kids to do their summer reading, and I’m sure they exclude that particular element from their summer reveries as well, but it is regrettably present in our reality. Probably transitioning back to work wasn’t my best planning maneuver for a carefree June, July and August. The kids are all over the map, and their so-called schedules have hijacked the long, uninterrupted hours I had intended to use for, well, whatever. It doesn’t matter. I need a break from this summer vacation.

My experience of summer is a little like jazz music. Or maybe funk. I like jazz, but I’m not exactly an aficionado. My inner perfectionist control freak struggles; it is hard for that girl to settle into the unpredictable rhythms and find the groove. The pauses come in unexpected places, and it makes me uncomfortable. The beats bump along, a bit restless without a clear direction, featuring a little swing, some improvisation, a surprising joyous moment, and then, just about the time I’m feeling synchronized, it abruptly ends. The trick is to surrender to the moment, to relax into the unfamiliar. Not my forte.

The boys’ class schedules and book lists arrive, and I am a little excited, anticipating a new school year. I am also dismayed that my plans to accomplish something summerish haven’t quite come to fruition. Plus I have so much more nothing to do. Now my window of opportunity is closing, and I experience simultaneously a desire to speed up the clock and an impulse to whack the snooze button. I’m not sure whether I need Ativan or Adderall.

I want a cosmic pause. Isn’t that what summer is supposed to be?

My interlude comes in the form of an evening at the Hollywood Bowl. It is my absolute favorite summer activity and a compelling reason to live in Los Angeles. When I was a kid, my parents brought my sister and me to a night at the Hollywood Bowl almost every summer, complete with our picnic dinner and plaid blanket. We brought hot tea and dessert for intermission. Back then, our “seats” were on the grassy knoll at the very top of the amphitheater. Now there are actual benches in that area, and instead of sitting on the picnic blanket, I wrap it around my shoulders as the evening cools. I’ve had seats all over the Bowl; there are no bad seats in that place. I love it all, and I don’t even care who’s playing – classical, jazz, opera, rock, big band, and anything with fireworks, of course. Music, friends, a bottle of wine, the moon, a breeze and a marine layer rolling in. It’s what I love most about summertime.

Only once in 40 years have I been disappointed at the Hollywood Bowl. The program was Totally 80’s. I don’t know what politics must have been involved, but scheduling any band after the B-52’s demonstrates unfortunate planning. The energy level can only go down after Rock Lobster. I’m just saying.

But here’s one more reason I love the Bowl: it‘s Tim’s and my thing. Neither his first wife nor my first husband was all that enthusiastic about attending. But we love it. As we journey along the bumpy road that is our life together, we travel some familiar territory, and we explore new places together. We even subscribed to a jazz series this summer, and I like it more than I had thought. What I’ve come to appreciate about jazz is its openness to possibility. To something new and wonderful. A willingness to try something different. To see where it flows. I didn’t think I could do it, mostly because I didn’t want to. But here I am, improvising, falling into a different cadence, finding a harmony I could not have otherwise known.

UPS arrives at my doorstep to deliver the boys’ school books. I’m mildly relieved that summer’s end is approaching, but I am going to ignore those boxes for just a day or two more. Somehow I can relax, knowing that the familiar structure and productivity are just up ahead.

***

Wishing you light and strength on your healing path. And a musical evening, preferably outdoors.

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