A summer of nothing sounded exactly right to me.
~from My Jasper June by Laurel Snyder
A list of my favorite heist movies:
Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13
Fish Called Wanda
Out of Sight
This summer has been short, shorter than most. It was so cold for so long, then boom it was July and now it’s the middle of August and I don’t quite know how we got here. A parent came into the library late last week and saw me at the desk. Her greeting consisted of asking me in an excited voice if I was ready for school to start. I gave her an emphatic no and then felt guilty for being so forceful. I tried to explain I hadn’t even been away yet. Running the summer reading program, there isn’t often time to go away, it’s just moving from one event to the next, juggling other people’s happiness.
At that point, looking back over the summer, the moments I kept returning to were those when I was doing nothing at all. Those little, often overlooked minutes that connect one happening to another. They are often tiny and nondescript, small enough to slip under your fridge with errant dog hair.
~Sitting in the chair at the eye doctors. My pupils were dilated and he left the room with the direction that I could sit or relax, or look at my phone for a bit. I chose the first option and reveled in the peace and quiet.
~Getting down on the kitchen floor with the dogs and just enjoying their company. It was at the end of the day, after a long eventful time at work and this respite was just the unexpected playful bit I needed.
~Riding my bike, Imogen, out to the lake. It’s a few miles away and coasting down the hill always brings me back to my teen years when I would leave my life for awhile and ride to the cemetery and back. Miles and miles of nothing but open road, with hills that made it almost unbearable, but the downside made it all worthwhile. My time at the lake this summer has been my saving grace, dipping my toes into the water is the best reward.
~The outdoor concert after work. Plopping down on the grass and watching the clouds scudding by as the music enveloped us.
~After M and I get home, perhaps while dinner is cooking he will show me a video or two. They often involve animals and often sweet and or silly. If this is what empty nesters do with their evenings, then I guess we’re all in. Recently we sprawled on the couch together, reading from a Twitter thread about heist movies. It inspired me to make the list featured here. Some of these i”m looking forward to rewatching.
Last week M and I watched a movie from the library, Shoplifters. It was a quiet, lyrical movie set in Japan about a group of people who come together as a family. Each one has a special skill and they work together to take what they need in order to survive. It took us three nights to get through it. It’s slow, but meaningful and we’re often tired, so a movie often requires a few evenings. At one point in the movie the grandmother is on the beach, looking at the rest of the family laughing and jumping in to the waves. her eyes are filled with gratitude and she scoops up sand and lets it fall over her legs. Thank you, thank you is her kind refrain.
I want to be grateful like that. I want to live my life in such a way that the moments are the objective rather than stolen and sequestered away. Saturday I finished work and drove down to pick up T so we could have a weekend away. He only spent one night with me, so we were fairly surgical in our time together. The plan was to take him back on our way to the Downton Abbey exhibit. We got into Boston and discovered his train had left 20 minutes earlier and another wouldn’t arrive for two hours. We found a coffee shop and sat and chatted over lemonade iced tea. Serendiptous. Someone else would have scouted on their phone for the best way to fill the time, me, I was happy just to sit and chat.
The Downton exhibit was truly amazing. So much thought and intention went into the set up and execution. Costumes, sets and a room that showed different scenes from the show against the backdrop of a constantly changing virtual imagery of the library and other rooms of the house. Perhaps this is the magic people speak about from Disney or the Harry Potter theme park, I was mesmerized and delighted.
The next day we went to the beach and we just sat and talked abut anything and everything. I’m not yet the grandma from the film, but I’m old enough to look back at appreciate what’s brought me to this point. It’s not the busyness or the way I try to cram as much into a day as humanly (or superhumanly) possible. Right now it’s about ease and simplicity and stepping away from the craziness of the world in order to recharge so that I am better equipped to handle what the world is throwing at me. I could label it self care, but that’s too trendy, too much work to make it look a certain way or adhere to someone’s standards or recommendations.
When I look back over this summer, when the kids start to arrive after school and the energy level ratchets up to 11, I want to be reminded of these quiet times, when I sat and let the world pass me by. The eternal question for me is how to keep them going. I want that option in other times of the year, not just the lazy, languorous days of summer. But at the same time I want to honor these specific moments, for the peace and joy that they brought me. It wasn’t a week long vacation , or a cruise or anything more formal than the recognition that these are the moments when I could sit and feel untethered and uncluttered. Couldn’t we all use a little bit more of that in our lives?
The resistance it takes to step out of the chaotic fray is like tugging back from incredibly powerful magnet. That snap and pop of breaking that bond and then— freedom. What happens next belongs to you. It’s a beautiful thing if we can step back and be still enough to let it happen.
Dear a, your word for next week is LOUD.