Commentary

Losing That Summer Feeling: Soon to Be Gone, Gone, Gone

By ELLEN KONWISER | Sep 19, 2018

The end of summer used to mean the start of school along with the daily grind of homework, studying and getting used to new teachers.

​At significant grade levels it meant entering an unfamiliar building. That brought the stress of meeting new kids, while often being separated from friends. A higher grade involved tackling new, more-difficult classes.

​As a college freshman, it included orienting myself to a large campus, learning to live in a dorm with a new roommate. Attending more-difficult classes was an interesting challenge. Because my parents were a distance away, I would see them only occasionally.

​My first teaching job began in September. Meeting the rest of the faculty, setting up a classroom and greeting the 20 children I’d be teaching brought an abrupt end to daydreams of summer. There was much too much work to do.

​My reluctance to see September arrive is exacerbated by the fact that my birthday falls midway through the month. On Sept. 1, I’m one age, but by the 30th I’m a year older. When I was younger, this was exciting, but as I age, it becomes more and more worrisome. Years seem to pass more quickly, and the age number climbs at an alarming rate.

​Although September always brought new experiences, these were at the expense of leaving behind the halcyon days of summer, endless days of freedom from obligations and schedules.​

​Nowadays, during the summer, I’m content to end the day sitting on a deck chair with a good book and a cold drink while I wait for the freshly caught fish to finish grilling. Jersey tomatoes and local corn add to the feast being prepared for the guests who will share our bounty. Neighbors wave as they, too, are on their decks. The highlight of the evening is the bright yellow, orange and red sky as the sun sets over the bay. I marvel at the sheer beauty.

​No matter how many times I might think about summer’s end, September always seems to sneak up. Slowly making its way across the calendar, it gathers speed on Aug. 1, only to come racing to Labor Day: the finish line.

​Now that I’m retired, I can stretch out a week or two into September before I must return to my home in North Jersey. Once there, I’ll still be able to relax with a good book and make any schedule I choose. But it won’t be LBI. I won’t be able to see sunsets over the bay; the days will get shorter, the family will gather less often, and the “summer feeling” will be lost.

​I’ve readied the beach house for the long winter ahead. Beds are stripped and the house is cleaned. The outside shower is devoid of the variety of soaps and shampoos. The refrigerator stands empty. The jigsaw puzzle and Monopoly game are back in their boxes on the closet shelf.

​I take a last look around at the empty beach house. Everything harbors a ghostly presence of summers past: bare kitchen counters, empty outdoor shower, sunporch now devoid of the luscious green plants that also enjoy spending the summers at the shore.

​I shut off the water and lock the door. Carrying the last of the coolers and boxes, I stow them in the car. Tears run down my cheeks as I back out of the driveway and head to the Causeway.​

​While the winter months keep me indoors, I’ll make a Summer 2018 photo scrapbook. When I return to the beach house in spring, I’ll add it to the growing stack of albums. Next summer we’ll all look at them while we reminisce about time so-and-so did this or when that happened. We’ll remark on how young we looked back in the ’90s.

Summer 2018 will find its place in our memories as we begin Summer 2019.

Ellen Konwiser lives in Mt. Arlington, N.J., and Brighton Beach.

 

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