Home > Uncategorized > Quarantine Diaries – Day 156 (Summer…or the lack thereof)

Quarantine Diaries – Day 156 (Summer…or the lack thereof)

It’s been a weird summer. Mostly because it doesn’t really feel like summer at all.

The weather, sure. But that’s only a small part of it.

outdoor-fire-pitsIt’s the music too. The way it used to climb out of car radios. The way it provided a soundtrack for gathering after dark, “sipping warm beer in the soft summer rain” as someone sorta famous once said. A certain record, a certain song, it could fill in all the awkward silences. We could sit around a fire with friends and family and everything worrisome receded, like an ocean tide. It’ll return surely, but not while this song is playing. Or this one…..

If the music is right, and the fire doesn’t go out, and the friends don’t go home, it could go on forever. What threads through all of our best memories is that we didn’t want those nights to end. And they all contain a soundtrack.

That’s what summer is supposed to feel like.

Baseball games. Concerts. Church picnics and patios. Nights at the drive-in. A moon bright enough to read by. We slow down long enough to enjoy the things worth slowing down for.

Now we’re largely alone. The music is in our ears only. We can’t share it anymore. Friends are on the other end of a smart phone. We bunker ourselves in and wait it out. Looking forward to, what exactly?

Fall is coming….and for kids it’s already here….as schools are back in session. Many of the classrooms are closing up faster than the students can get their lockers open, as the virus continues to spread. There’s no plan. No nationwide effort to eradicate it. We’re on our own. Kids are on their own. Homework every single night is “read this chapter and try not to get sick and kill grandma..” The only winners seem to be the ones who bought stock in Zoom at the beginning of the year.

Summer was the reward for getting through the other 9 months. You could take some time off. It wasn’t dark on your drive home anymore. You had hours more to go before you had to shut yourself down and plug into the next day.

I have these offbeat memories of summer music. At the Saint Joseph’s picnic in 1984, an older kid from our high school carrying a boom box around, blasting the brand new Springsteen. Something called “Born in the USA”. It sounded gigantic….and everybody already seemed to know all the words.

Another Springsteen memory. Sitting in the back of a pick-up, “The River” playing from start to finish as we illegally drank from a cooler of Rolling Rock, listening hard. And wondering if what we were in for was what Bruce was singing about in these songs, because he didn’t make adult-ing sound that much fun. Stolen Cars and wrecks on the highway and wandering the streets looking for shoes, then waking up early to push baby carriages spawned from unwanted pregnancies. All the prices you had to pay. You can look but you better not touch indeed. I was terrified of growing up because of this record. But at the same time, it taught us that even though it might suck to get old, we could still hit the roadhouse and ramrod all night long….that is if a babysitter was available. Bruce was raging against the dying of the light even then. But he still sounded like he was having fun. Lesson learned.

One more. I think it was the summer of 1983. I had a job with the county housing authority. Painting. It was hot and sticky and full time and I was miserable but it paid well and featured quite the cast of characters. It allowed me to buy my first walkman, which seemed magical at the time. On day one I splattered paint all over it, which made it that much cooler. A friend had taped the Who’s final show of their 1982 show off the radio. A show from Toronto. And he made me a copy and I played that show so much that the tape disintegrated and I had to sheepishly ask him to make me another copy. This truly kick-started my life-long Who/Townshend obsession. That tape. That summer.

I’ve listened to all sorts of music since we’ve been locked down. And it’s gotten me through. And inspired me. All of it. But what I don’t have is the memories that go along with it. The boom-box blaring or the cold Rolling Rocks or the brand new walk-man. And the friends who were alongside me for all of it.

And I miss that. And I miss them.

I want this to end.

In a bit..


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