Summer Lights


I don’t like Summertime. There. I said it. I know it’s an unpopular opinion, so I ought to explain why.

Summer is bright and shiny and even blinding at times. It’s full of light. And for this night owl, I find that aspect of it a bit annoying. I’m somebody who likes mood lighting and watching TV in the dark, and I might be the only person I know who doesn’t mind when the sun sets at 5 o’clock in the wintertime. I was born on a Wednesday evening in December, so maybe that’s why.

Summer Lights. There are so many types. I admire some. I dislike others.

The Sun – It’s hot. It makes me sweat. It burns me. People say to me “Do you ever tan?” No. I turn from white to pink back to white. I need fake tanning lotion to achieve even a hint of summer pigment. I wear my sunglasses constantly. Often indoors (because I forget I have them on.)

Fireworks – They’re loud. They hurt my ears. I try to like them, but I don’t. They’re boring.

…I’ll never forget the year the youngest of The Precious Pair turned 2, and we went to a fireworks show, and she clung to me as if her life depended on it and quietly murmured the whole time how much she hated it. She likes them now. I still don’t. They’re bombs for fun, basically. How dumb.

Fireflies – They’re cool. They’re the nighttime version of a ladybug. Nonthreatening. They don’t bite. They don’t sting. They just flash. On & Off. They’re consistent and silent yet emit a natural magic that can launch just about any middle-aged person straight back to childhood. Back to a mason jar with a metal lid punched with bug breathing holes and filled with grass. Several simpler summers ago.

Campfire – I love the smell. I love the crackling. I love the multi-colored flames. I’m not great at building them. I cheat and buy those fake logs! (Yes, like my tan.) I don’t believe in being a fake person, but sometimes you gotta’ fake it ‘till you make it. But, wait. It’s way too dang hot for a campfire…

Tiki Torches – I’m a fan. They’re festive. They serve a noble purpose in warding off The Evil Mosquito. However, the value of them is lost on my teenager, the oldest of The Precious Pair. She fights with me about them. Says they look trashy in our yard. Thankfully, I’m at the glorious age where I’ m over caring if someone thinks something looks trashy in my yard. So I have two tiki torches.

The Grill – I love to grill out. Chicken. Salmon. Burgers. Veggies. An Occasional Steak. The black charcoal burns into orange embers, hot and bright, until they turn to a dull ashy gray. Then you know you’re ready to cook! I love the smells and tastes of grilled food, maybe one of the most redeeming qualities of summer, in my opinion.

Lightning – It’s generally scary. I don’t appreciate a good storm like many people I know. Streaks across the sky are fine, but I don’t want to see one strike anywhere close. A few years ago, a blinding bolt hit practically on top of our house at the time. Everything electrical the neighbors owned got destroyed. We were lucky and only got spooked.

Starlight/Moonlight – They’re lovely. They’re mild. They glow. They’re never too bright. Never intense. I like them year-round, especially when there’s some crazy lunar event I can witness from my porch, like a big ass Harvest Moon. (I love the fall.)

There is one light I’m missing this summer that’s not here on my list. It’s the kind I generate myself, on the inside of me. My light is feeling a bit off, a little dim. I need to fire it up. I’m not quite sure how.

I have ideas. I need motivation. Get more exercise. Get organized. Write a book, maybe…one that’s kinda’ like this blog?

I’ve got to get out of my daily robotic slump. Sleep until 9. Awake until midnight. Working. Taking a nap. Making dinner. Watching Netflix. The Groundhog Day effect of quarantine and my extended remote work situation is rough and it’s real. And it’s making me a little grumpy.

I like to be out in the lights of the world. Stoplights. Overhead lights at the office. Trendy lights hanging above a restaurant booth. Ballpark lights at a minor league game. Stagelights at a concert or the symphony. A backlit movie theatre screen and the butter-colored warming light of the popcorn machine. Headlights both passing by me and guiding me to all these places.

Normalcy might light me up again. But what is normal now? Not the Old Normal. The New One requires us to hide our smiles behind our masks – and if you choose not to, WTH is wrong with you?!? One where we fear the places that used to bring us joy. (Shopping even at Target is stressful, not a mini vacation like it used to be.) One where we see our coworkers – some of our best friends – only via a cold digital screen.

Summer Lights! Shine on me. Convince me. Make me see my own shadow so I will know I’m the same person in this New World. I can’t control what happens around me. I can only control how I handle it. And I’m typically a Handler, so why am I not handling things better? Conflicts. Emotions. Struggles. They swirl around me. But that doesn’t make me special. They swirl around all of us.

If only we could catch all of it in a mason jar. Seal it up. No breathing holes. Trap the hard stuff that we don’t want to handle. And toss it in the river under the light of the moon, or at least in the glow of a good-quality flashlight.

Or maybe we just learn to handle it. Wear the damn mask. Stay home, be safe, and enjoy it. (After all, I do like grabbing an afternoon nap when I would otherwise be commuting an hour home from work.) Make those plans for hanging out with coworkers socially-distanced outdoors while the weather will allow it, under the flames of your tiki torches.

If your light is flickering, it’s okay. So is mine. Even with all these Summer Lights shining all over the place. Bring me cooler and dimmer days, and, ironically, that might brighten my flame. Until then, I’ll be soaking up the A/C.

Shaming Summer,

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