I've been noticing that each year the back-to-school craze seems to begin earlier and earlier. Is this because unbeknownst to me (now that my kids are grown) school is starting in July? While in some areas of the nation this may be true, here in New Jersey, as far as I can tell, school still starts just after Labor Day. Why then, must I be accosted with visions of notebooks and backpacks before I've even made a visit to the beach?
"Where is the fire?" as I used to call after my kids when they rushed out the door. Why are we in such a rush? What ever happened to savoring the here and now? And is there, truly, a way to end this madness so that we can begin to live our lives again in a way that isn't hurried? After a winter like that of 2014, I can't imagine why anyone would be in a rush for summer to end (even retailers, many of whom suffered financially from the onslaught of snow, bad driving conditions, and nonexistent parking). In fact, I think it would be dandy marketing for folks to jump on board with the idea of extending summer and putting the back to school sales off.
To wit, I am doing my part this year to extend my summer vacation well into September (by virtually not taking my summer vacation until then). And why not? My kids are older, so there's no school calendar hanging over my head. Though I had intended not to take any vacation at all this year (due to finances, as well as work issues), I relented when my middle son revealed that his job requires him to take one more vacation week before January. What better excuse, I thought, to rent a cabin on a lake for a little family retreat? And why not rent it after Labor Day (since every cabin from here to Timbuktu and every beach bungalow as well has been rented well in advance, some as early as January 1 if not before, anyway?).
I'll see how this plays out. After all, I have noticed in recent years (or maybe imagined), that precisely the day after Labor Day the temperature drops about 40 degrees and the rain begins to fall. (Of course, this is not to deny the sweltering heat and humidity of "Indian Summer" which may pop up later in the month --or may not, depending upon global warming, global cooling, or the whim of the universe). On the other hand, at this point in my life I don't really care much whether it rains on my vacation. I no longer don a bikini and bake in the sun for hours (well truth be known I never was into bikinis).
The idea of reading a book for pleasure, sleeping late, dining out, and being in the presence of my grown children for any length of time, however fleeting, will be enough of a vacation for me. Simply the idea of stretching out the summer is enough of a vacation for me. (In the yoga I've recently been practicing we're told if a pose is simply too difficult to imagine ourselves doing it and that will be enough. I like that concept and will apply it to other aspects of my life as well. For instance, I can see myself at the beach in a bikini even though I am rained in, wearing sweatpants and reading Middlemarch -- again! -- in a drafty cabin, surrounded by grown young men who are on their computers, iPhones, or swearing at a sports game on TV, if not out on the dock fishing in their ponchos.
Perhaps I've rambled a bit and you're wondering how I've gotten from the 4th of July to here. But this is how life works these days. One minute you are contemplating going to the beach, and the next moment it's time to shop for back to school clothes.
The lazy days of summer just ain't what they used to be. I think it's about time we staged a nationwide protest by putting up our beach umbrellas and refusing to take them down until Halloween.