Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happy New Year!

Today is the kids' last day of school. And they are ecstatic.

Of course. How could they not be? I get it.

I get it so much so, in fact, I have built my adult life around it.

Some background: My first insight that I, myself, can control the calendar was bestowed by a former girlfriend (who wasn't former at the time), who one day decreed that our calendar henceforth would be constructed and construed around a restructured seasonal schedule.

Fall would remain as it is -- the autumnal equinox to the winter solstice. Winter, though, became one day long: the winter solstice day. After that, when each day grew longer, was now Spring -- the day after the winter solstice until the vernal equinox. And Summer ... Summer from that day forward ran a glorious and much deserved stretch from equinox to equinox, both up and down the slopes of waxing and waning day-lengths, bisected by the apogee of the summer solstice.

Summer, in our newly devised highly personalized calendar, from that day on spanned the full half of the year when the days were longer than the nights.

The reason we did this, of course, was because at that point in our lives -- young, single, out-of-school-forever bums (until graduate school ...) -- we were living our seasons that way: half the year wandering, roaming, traveling, working outdoors, sleeping outdoors. We were explorers who migrated with the seasons, seeking variety and change and discovery. We, like when we were kids, like my teen-aged kids today, truly lived for Summer.

I never outgrew that. And so I've never outgrown that excitement and energy my kids exhibited this morning getting ready for their last day of the school year: It's the real New Year's Day!

See, in a kid's calendar, Summer is not a celestial season. It is a style. An attitude. An experience. And more than that, it's the start of a new cycle: Because they know that what happens over the next few months of freedom -- blessed, sacred Summer! -- will nourish and sustain them during the long months of educational internment they will have to endure after Summer has passed. Until summer comes again, launching a new year-long cycle.

Me too. Because that odd calendar that my old girlfriend and I conjured decades ago was, to me, more than a somewhat silly rhetorical exercise. The import of that change, I have come to realize upon further reflection, led to a rather enormous alteration in personal perception -- and even greater redirection of my life, and even my making a living.

Basically, I never got over that getting-out-of-school view of Summer that kids experience. And because of that, Summer remains a sacred space I choose to keep in my life. It, too, creates and shapes the self I will be when I return from summer to the more-indoor lifestyle and workspaces I must occupy during the non-Summer part of my annual cycle.

Doing this, still, in my late 40s, though, is not without some not-insignificant difficulties, as you can imagine. Keeping this variety and flexibility means I've had to piece together an odd assortment of odd jobs. My wife has taken a more unified approach, working in the school system, but that, of course, comes with its own challenges and difficulties.

But it's been well worth it. Because at our house Summer ... well, it's what we live for, still.

Happy New Year!

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