Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The Myth of Summer (A Long Winded Rant)
I wonder why I look forward to summer every year. Summer is about halfway over and I haven't enjoyed it one bit. Summer 2010 has been an extra bummer in many ways. Now when I was a kid summers were cool, No School, Family vacations and what have you. It seemed like endless activity. But When I was an adult, Summer hasn't been special, Or at least no more special than the other seasons. I think the last summer I really enjoyed was in 1983. I was 16.
The summer of 2010 has made me realize how I just can't seem to figure out how to enjoy it, Yet it seems that I may be in the minority on my inability. Still, The weather has been awful. Way too hot, Way too humid to enjoy my normal activity. Sometimes it seems too extreme to even go outside at times. Even my first trip to the beach this year was a bummer.
I guess the major reason I don't enjoy summers is that I have to work. Other than delivering papers, 1983 was the last summer in which a job (Or looking for a job) didn't interfere with my fun. The day was mine to enjoy and I made the most of it. I had nearby neighbors who used to enjoy playing baseball in the dead end street around the block from me, I enjoyed my strenuous bike rides to nearby Chester to pick up my comics and I just went about the neighborhood looking for activities.
Starting when I was 17, Work took much of my time but that was offset by the first summer in which I could drive. That minor bit of freedom allowed for me to explore towns too far to get to by bike. It was also the first summer in which I was able to skip church on Sundays. Work made for a convenient excuse for me to go wandering around the local towns instead of going to church.
I did have a good summer in 1985 after I graduated high school. It involved mostly going to parties. I was denied this before I had my job and use of a car. But it wasn't a "summery" thing. No pool parties, No beach runs other than a post "prom I didn't go to trip" to Seaside Heights. However, I did take a trip late in the summer to Ireland which while enjoyable it too was not really summery. It would be the last vacation I'd take for many years. I then broke my ankle at Action Park right before I went to SVA. Couldn't work after that.
The summers during my art school years usually involved full-time unpleasant jobs to pay but there were some highlights:
The summer of 1986 involved following the Mets while I worked swing shift at a Nursing Home. It was fun to listen to what was a angst free regular season of multiple wins. the rest of the time I grew fat.
The summer of 1987 did feature the best 4th of July weekend of my life. And it was spent in Orange County New York (of all places) at my friends place. It was made extra Great by the fact a rift I had with another friend was healed. A few trips to the shore made it a half decent summer.
The summer of 1988 had a great 4th of July party my parents hosted, Not much else happened though.
The summer of 1989 occurred after I graduated SVA. A transitional year I screwed up. It ended with my pioneering move to Jersey City, Taking on THREE jobs including working for my Dad. Probably the summer I worked more than any other summer of my life and thus denying me summer fun.
I don't remember 1990 but 1991 was when I made the decision to move to Seattle. I traveled up and down the west coast and avoided the ugly Augusts of the east coast. Heck, it was actually cold in San Francisco! I met a lot of people along the way but it was fleeting, Nothing that lasted. But the vacation was tempered by the fact I had to Get a place, Get a job and figure out what I was going to do with my life.
The summer of 1992 started with a nasty breakup involving cheating with a friend of mine. This meant that I had to sever ties with everyone I was friends with at the time in Seattle. A lot of soul searching, A lot of bike riding, Several flings and ironically the best tan I ever had almost made up for it. But it was a lonely summer.
The summer of 1993 started with being laid off from a sleazy night club called Celebrity and dealing with my first bout of forced unemployment. It lasted beyond the summer in which I spent a lot of time with fruitless pursuits of jobs, Even jobs "beneath" my stature. I gained weight, Hung out with people who had such a effed up living situation.
The summer of 1994 I had moved to Federal Way, WA. Yuck. I had a girlfriend who I moved in with, Lost another job I held for less than 6 months, Cobain blew his brains out in spring, OJ took up all the headlines, Baseball season was canceled, I took on a a crappy job to get by, A summer to forget.
The summer of 1995 was better. I still had that crappy job but I had a second job doing caricatures for Guinness that enabled me to travel all around the Puget Sound. It was fun, I saw some great places and met some interesting people. the Mariners went on their playoff run and the city was alive. Still no summer vacation to speak of.
The summer of 1996 was highlighted by a trip to the east coast to my brother's great wedding, My cousin's almost great wedding and a fun camping trip with my friends. I guess it counts as a vacation but I was depressed at losing yet another job and gaining so much weight that I never feature pics from my brother's wedding anywhere.
Don't remember anything about 1997 or 1998 but 1999 was memorable for all the wrong reasons. It started off well, I finally proposed to my girlfriend of 5 1/2 years and used the summer to celebrate. I was ignorant on what was going behind the scenes however. One party with her co-workers ended with me in a heated argument with a racist friend of the host over racism and manners. Whoops! Liquid courage can be a bitch! I walked out of the party and headed down the road. the problem is that the party was 35 miles from home and my fiance stayed behind at the party. IT turns out she was already in a new relationship and when we finally saw each other the next day, we were finished.
The year Two Thousannnnddddddd was miserable but the summer was made interesting by the most dysfunctional relationship I ever had. From roughly Memorial Day through Labor Day I had my rebound relationship with someone who was really weird but who I was attracted to. It's unfair to pin the dysfunction on her. She merely had rules for potential partners that I definitely did not live up to. Physically the relationship was great, Emotionally we were not right for each other. I guess we were lonely. I was STILL getting over the breakup with my fiance and I made this other woman's life stressful with my whining about updated information on what was going on with my ex. It came to a head on Labor Day and finally I was able to muster up the courage to tell this woman I would not continue to wreck her life. She reacted like a heroin junkie who was being told that she would get no more heroin. It was the first time I ever broke up with a woman. Truly the idea that I hope she is doing well ten years later, Better than me I hope. It's not an empty platitude.
The summers of 2001 was mostly memorable due to the Seattle Mariners dominant run for 116 wins, The joy of that was ruined by 9-11 and being excoriated by my aunt for rooting for the Mariners against the New York Yankees because of it.
The summer of 2002 I worked at a restaurant right near the baseball and nearly completed football stadium. It was a fun summer even though I worked a lot. I made lots of money and hung out a lot with co-workers.
2003 and 2004, Not much happened summer wise. No vacations. I did visit my folks once at their new place and went to Seaside Heights a few times. The first time I went to the Jersey shore in more than a decade.
2005 was when I made the decision to move back to Jersey. I was in a relationship with a young woman for about half a year when she moved back to Jersey. I missed her enough to make that decision to move back to Jersey myself. The summer was spent saying goodbye to Seattle, Hello to the red states of America and hello once again to the state I grew up. It was fun going to the beach while I was still not working but like in 1991 I was stressed with the task of looking for work and the stress was compounded by the fact I needed a better job than restaurant work to survive in Jersey.
The summer of 2006 was spent looking for a place to live in with my girlfriend in Spring Lake Heights, Working in a fish restaurant in Belmar, Welcoming the birth of my wonderful nephew, and making good use of being close to the beaches. However most of the time on the beach was spent alone because my girlfriend was a bit weird about beach life. She says she loves it but this is more or less how she spends her time there:
Still, It was a much better summer than 2007. It started with My girlfriend walking out of our apartment with 4 months left on the lease she signed. She gave lame reasons for the breakup but I know it was for a reason that she kept hidden. She of course got defensive buy any suggestions I made on what I already knew. Still, I was more upset at the financial pit she put me in than the fact she left. She was even more crazy than my "rebound" relationship of 2000. On Memorial Day I lost yet another restaurant job after I got into an argument with my boss. Meanwhile I had gone into overdrive trying to find a better job, Finding an apartment I could afford and bothering all my long distance friends with my anxiety. I somehow got "bait and switched" into taking a part time job at UPS that was totally unsuitable to a 40 year old, Hard physical labor. However horrible the job was, It enabled me to finagle my way into a desperately needed apartment. Life begins at 40 they say, But I had to really use my willpower to prevent my life from ending at 40.
The summer of 2008 was interesting in that I lived close enough to Sandy Hook to take advantage of their beaches. Including the nude one at Gunnison. A liberating experience that with three days off from my new job at EWR I took advantage of. Gas prices were so high I barely drove. No need. It was not a bad summer, except I had no vacation, No girlfriend.
The summer of 2009 had bad weather early on, It was cold and rainy a lot. I had wanted to move from my teeny tiny apartment to be closer to the airport. since my lease ended in July, Much of my time was used moving.
Which brings me to this year. There's still time to have an enjoyable summer but it doesn't look good. I have no plans for any vacation this year. The weather has been horrible and my current place retains heat and has no practical place to install an AC unit in the room I spend 80% of my time in. The heat and humidity puts fear in my taking any long bike rides. My social life has stalled after looking promising back in May. I'm not close enough to the shore to make use of any post work excursion. NYC is to be avoided in the summer. A trip to Citi-Field was almost marred by the 100 degree weather. Thank God my nephew enjoyed himself at the game. Which brings me to the fast becoming bummer that is the Mets baseball season. WILL YOU GO ON A WINNING RUN ALREADY!!!!! I use baseball as a diversion to any personal angst. You're not doing your job Mets!
Anyway, I prove my point in having a dull summer by the fact I can take up this much time writing about it. I'm not a recluse nor am I a party pooper but sometimes I think that's what other think I am.