Dog Days of August

I get up, go through the routines of the day; some things change, but there are the pillars - eat breakfast, devotions, walk Lily, a bit of desk work, talk on the phone with someone I love, wine-thirty, pull out TV trays and supper with Don, a little bit of TV, and before I know it I'm brushing my teeth and turning down the covers.

August days in Texas do NOT feel like they fly by. Every single day so far this month has hit 100, and today is predicted to be no different. August in Texas feels more like a slow ooze of being covered with a light covering of sweat, clothes sticking to you, and the only way you feel cool is to go outside, then come back in. That first moment when the AC hits you is pure bliss.

There's nothing fast about the way summer in Texas feels, and yet, when I go in Target the aisles are crammed with backpacks, pencils, folders, and all stuff for kids to go back to school or college. How can it already be time? And if I'm feeling that way, how on earth are the kids feeling? (Of note, when I was in elementary school in southeast Texas, there was no AC. Maybe in the principal's office, but surely not the classrooms. That would never happen nowdays!

I was one of those weird kids who always looked forward to going back to school. The yellow bus full of chattering kids, new tennis shoes, a box of 64 crayons with the built-in sharpener if the budget allowed, and a few new outfits. (Mine were usually from Montgomery Ward.) We girls wore only dresses until I was in high school, when we all immediately switched to bell bottoms. They flared out at the ends in glorious display, and when they wore so thin holes showed up, we took embroidery thread and needle and sewed happy flowers and peace symbols on them. By the time school rolled around (and always after Labor Day!), I was bored silly with staying at home with my brothers, or going to the local pool.

When I got to jr. high we no longer rode the bus; rather we walked. We walked! I don't know a single kid whose parents drove them to school. It was simply unheard of. I can't imagine the mortification of having your parent pull up in front of the school and letting you out in front of all your classmates. Rather, we walked out our front doors, met our best friends somewhere along the route, and continued on to school. After school was the same. There was no clogged carpool lane, but rather front doors bursting open to a wave of all of us being released for 18 hours til we'd all show up, and do it all over again. Homework not necessarily done, but all of us ready to be together for another day.

I loved the rhythm of the days school brought on. When anything else in life might feel amiss, being in school with the bell ringing every 45 minutes to tell me it was time to move somewhere else, there was a big sense of security in that.

Sometimes, if anyone had any money, we'd all walk to the local Burger King, where we'd sip ice cold cokes and eat fries or slurp milkshakes, not caring at all about the calories. We'd make messes and be loud and annoying to anyone else who happened to be there. It was absolutely the best time for flirting! A boy I'd only exchanged glances with, I could now sit a few spaces away from, and we could listen to each other talk to others. And if the relationship had progressed to the point where someone had been given someone else's ring, we'd proudly sport it on our hand, wrapped in yarn so it wouldn't fall off, and we'd snuggle up together in a booth for just a little while. No parents or teachers looking on.

I still remember, in 9th grade, when our entire class body descended on this particular restaurant and stole napkins, a handful at a time, to decorate a float for some parade. White napkins sticking out of chicken wire - I don't even recall what the float looked like, but I do remember pilfering the napkins. God bless the owner of that place for not bolting the door when he saw us all coming his way. The restaurant is still standing and operating, and every time I go back home, and pass by, I mentally apologize to him. But such sweet memories of that place.

So we're nothing about routine right now. We are selling furniture all around us, eating at crazy hours, watching Olympics til midnight and falling into bed exhausted. It's going to be a good month before anything in our life looks routine, but in just another week or so, while we're still in this house, the yellow school bus will pull up two doors down, the kids in jr. high or younger will climb up the steps, and I'll have fun remembering back to those days of 64 crayons, new tennis shoes, homework, cute boys and building sloppy floats out of pilfered napkins. 


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