I’ve been trying to figure out why I love warm summer nights. I mean, besides the obvious. I assume everyone enjoys a warm summer night. But some like snowy winter nights and others are enraptured by autumn mornings. But, for me, if I could take anything with me wherever I go, it would be the complete sensual memory of a warm summer night. Now, all my knowledge of a summer evening comes from the Northwest; namely, Tacoma and Seattle. I’m sure there are some cities around the world that make “my” summer evenings feel like nineteenth day of Seattle’s gray rain in late February, but even if I go to those places (if I ever get there), it will be difficult to trump 30+ years of nostalgia. Through her eyes, I’m not sure the sunset over a Tuscan field in late August would weigh my soul with the kind of wordless presence embracing me right now.
While watching “Ocean’s Twelve” tonight, I kept looking at Bainbridge Island across the sound. More captivated by the city lights than either Brad Pitt or George Clooney’s (amazingly stunning) ability to wear expensive suits, I focused on drinking in the night air. Even though the pollution-induced haze dulled the Olympic’s view, there was a crispness in the air—the crispness of cool (but not too cool) Pacific waters – its scent brought by a steady wind also bringing that drab, yet familiar monotonous cloud cover. I was – and am—reminded of late July Fourth parties at my parents’ home, staying up late, later than that last guest, filled with baseball, BBQ, and firework adrenaline. I think of yearly camping trips: when I was young, with all of the Wilsie’s. We’d book three or four campsites in a row and fill that many tables with our moms’ meal preparations, swimming all day in the lake or pool. And before this last year, our yearly trips with the Meza’s- M&M poker, too many Ciders, Ed (loudly) tripping over branches in the middle of the night, that woman who sang with her guitar next to us at Moran State Park, and oh, of course, Frisbee baseball.
Maybe it stems back to summer vacation- the idea that for THREE WHOLE MONTHS I could pretty much do what I wanted when I wanted, that the weather was usually just right (a Northwest summer would make Goldilocks happy) and all of these memories were established not only by all the five senses, but also before I was burdened with any of the self-consciousness that came with adolescence and evolved steadily alongside the insecurities of being an adult who isn’t quite sure (yet) where the security of life resides.
On our way to my first Seattle Storm game last night and after dinner with the McConaughy’s (who are moving into their home in Port Orchard as I write), Ed revealed to me that unless this fellowship comes through, he (we) cannot afford to attend BU. Well, shit. No wonder he wakes up at night, braced for something bad to happen. The funny thing is, this feeling isn’t new and strangely enough, is somewhat familiar. Every major decision I’ve (we’ve) made has come before we knew how we could make it work: financially, logistically, emotionally. I knew I was going to marry Ed a week after we got together. Ed sat on the floor next to me on the couch in our place in Parkland not two years after we were married and said he wanted to get his Masters in Sports Psychology (in what?!?). I rolled with that, decided to apply for grad school myself (after we moved to Bellingham) and now love my job teaching writing. A few months after we graduated from Western, and were both ready to begin teaching in new jobs, I convinced both of us to get pregnant. Hello Jack. What’s interesting to me about all of these “decisions” is that they almost seem to be made before I had the chance to make them. It was as if the decision was made and I was just going along with it. Instinct? Insanity? Frankly, the jury’s still out. With all of these decisions came rough transitions, doubts, frustration, and ultimately, confirmation that we were headed in the right direction. Boston has been one of those decisions: illogical and yet something that made instant sense.
I’m talking about all of these decisions to bolster my faith that things will work out for us. The truth is, we don’t have a place to live, I don’t have a job, and we don’t know how Ed will pay tuition, let alone how we’ll be able to pay bills and eat—similar logistical and financial unknowns encountered when we got married, when we moved to Bellingham, when we decided to have a baby. Yet, unlike all of those life changes, the stakes are much higher now- we are moving (very) far away from family and friends and we have a small person to raise and support. I wonder: why aren’t I waking up in the middle of the night, freaking out?
My favorite move, “Shakespeare in Love,” has one of the best lines in the world- a life philosophy, really. When the playhouse closes down and a handful of people are about to lose their money, Geoffery Rush’s character (I guess you’d call him a producer of sorts who wasn’t producing) proclaims while about to be hauled away to jail that “in the end it all works out.” Someone asks how. The reply is a non-chalant, “I don’t know; it’s a mystery.” At that moment, the playhouse reopens. For the entire move, there’s laughter, tears, passion, comedy, drama, drink, food, despair, and love- but mostly everyone is just living. I am alive in the evening air. If I can feel it and know it intimately, I realize I am present now. That’s all I really can control. As for the rest, I can only keep working, making guesses as to what will lead us towards our desired goal, but in the end, all I can do is soak in the warm night air and wink at fate’s unknown plans.