Song of Summer

It’s August, it’s the middle of summer here. Things are winding down in the US, schools are starting up, life is going back to normal, yet here we’re still in the thick of things. In fact, the Husband hasn’t even had his vacation yet. Summer is a strange time, I find, and this summer has been stranger than most.

I take off for the beach with the kids by mid June and I’m there, suspended in a sort of limbo, until the end of July. The days run into each other, people come down for a few days, this year I’ve had to come home every so often for the never-ending story that is the money pit, we get up, we go to the beach, we come home, we do chores, we watch more tv than we should, we play silly games, we argue and yell more than we do at home. It’s a strange dynamic that comes with summer, we become a one-parent family for most of the week, with nothing to do and no seeming structure but the structure imposed on us by our human needs and cravings and by the rhythm of the sun’s rising and setting.

I’ve never really wanted a house at the beach before getting this one. I hated the idea of always going to the same place, of feeling constrained and obliged to go there because it was just sitting there waiting for us. But now I appreciate the familiarity of going to the same place every year, the shopkeepers’ greetings, the special attention, the small discounts reserved for “friends” that we get at all the little shops. The Children enjoy meeting their friends at the beach every year, a year older, wiser, all from different cities, but with the same desire to leave their hometowns, their schools, their city friends behind and just dig holes together in the sand. What is it about digging holes in the sand? What’s the appeal? And yet it’s not just the children who do it, I find myself digging holes for no reason, at first with my foot, and absent-minded movement, but soon I’m getting in there with my hands with gusto, up to my elbows just digging away with the intensity of one looking for some long-lost treasure.

Our beach place makes me happy. I’m not sure what it is. I like that it’s small but large enough to have friends stay, I like that the kitchen/living room is just one large (ish) area so that the children are always under foot, I like that it’s easy to clean and take care of, it reminds me of living in Milan going to school, a simple life made of basic needs and pleasures.

We’re home now, the seaside magic always ends with the coming of August and the crowds that descend during the official Italian vacation month. Our wandering days aren’t over, of course, we’re of to the french Riviera for a few days to visit the Nonni and then to the mountains of Trentino for the Husbands official holiday. When we get home, we’ll have to gear up for the Boy’s first grade debut, which is making me especially maudlin this summer. How does time go by so quickly, how is he starting first grade already? How are we still here in this two-horse podunk town? I went on the International School of Turin’s website the other day and got all in a lather that I can’t send the Boy to school there (too far). This isn’t where I thought we’d be at this point. It’s so strange (and somewhat disheartening) how our lives tend to go down unexpected paths despite years of methodical and meticulous planning. I’m trying to hang on to summer’s insouciance but I already feel the tendrils of my temporarily abated control-freakishness creeping in and getting a hold on me. But I’m still holding on to the summer song with a strong grip as the raindrops start falling like every afternoon, and hopefully this small hint of anxiety that’s starting up will be washed away with the summer storm.

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