I never know how I feel about these dogs days of summer. Summer starts so slowly and once it gets going it feels as if these warm sunny days might last forever. In some places that is merely magical thinking, but in California it is just reality. Here in San Francisco the weather toys with the inhabitants of the great jewel of a city on the Bay, the Marine layer keeping us cool for most of the summer, only really taking off into any semblance of heat in the fall months.
We are currently sitting in one of those brilliant and burning late summer days. The pleasant warmth of the early and mid summer San Franciscan months, turning into something less comfortable. Part of me wants to fast forward to late October, when the weather turns into a colder, more pleasing chill, part of me wants to stall time and just stay in this day forever. After all in this day, despite the heat of it, I have my apartment. I have my Boy. I have a working pen, a shred of hope for a future. I have my Ruthie. In this day I have my favorite Bowie tee shirt on, the one that has been washed grey from its original black, and the Spiders from Mars crawling over it. It has a hole under one arm. It is going to have to be relegated to sleepwear at some point I suppose.
Joni is singing about being in the ‘upstairs choir’, in a song about Leonard Cohen and Laurel Canyon life, a seemingly perfect point in time. Leonard is dead a few years already now. Joni unwell. Other people living in those sweet little houses that CSNY sang Our House about. Other people in those swimming pools. Other Canyon Ladies making brownies with ‘fat babies’ and ‘fat cats’ and their wampum beads, and their drawings and songs. Joni’s time there is crystalized in perfect sound and word, but has long gone.
This impermanence should not be a shock to me. Nothing stays perfect forever. Nothing can be pinned to stay the same. Everything decays, everything dies, everyone moves on. Every perfect situation has to finish, I suppose. Every Woodstock festival has a start and an end, and no one knows the importance until after the fact, and every ‘stardust’ and ‘golden’ young person that Joni sung about in the song of the same name gets older and wiser and eventually turns into ‘billion year old carbon’. I often wonder if I could go back to one single day, which day would I chose? Would I chose to know or not to know? Would I chose a groundhog day where I could be perfectly content. Would the other people populating my groundhog day be happy to spend it over and over with me too?
Perhaps I should chose a day where I was alone and not damn anybody else to eternity with me. In the end, I have to wonder if anyone wants me around at all. My idea of permanently content could well be at the cost of someone else being horrified at the thought. Would anyone else have a nice thing to say about me when I am gone and my impermanence is permanently proved? To be frank, I doubt it some days. But I could just be too hot, too sad and too depressed at the thought of what lays ahead for me in the future, to even consider I mean anything to anyone. It is easier for me to fool myself that I am not needed or wanted any more.
Still, selfishly speaking, for all the awful heat of this day, these dog days of summer ’22, I can’t help but wish that I could just live in them forever. I have a wonderful relationship with my Boy. He is so bright, so intelligent, so handsome and sweet and funny, such wonderful company, that I feel lucky to spend the days with him, and for him to enjoy my company too. The trauma we have been through together has meant that the two of us are closer than we would have been. He sees me as his friend, and I am glad for it. He is my best friend, the person I love most in this world. I just have to come to terms with him growing up and moving away at some point soon. There are not too many more summers left like this and that makes me very sad indeed. I suppose this is why we parent – to raise children that grow up and move away and have their own independent lives. He dreams of going to Berkley and studying criminology. I dream of him being happy and safe and content and living a good happy life full of love. After all, if I can get him there, then everything I went through would be worth it.
My garden is in full late summer bloom. I am trying to hold back a tide of ripeness and lushness, a tsunami of green and flowers and happy cactuses. I repotted the bamboo that I bought when I first moved in here. It has grown too big for its water flask and needed to put its roots in soil. I liked those little red bamboo flasks, but everything grows, everything changes and now the bamboo stalks are sitting in a cheap plastic brown pot. Oh to press pause! Oh to press rewind! Oh to be able to freeze time and stay here forever, the rest of the world moving on without me! Oh for the future not to be so terrifyingly bleak. Oh for the past not to have me occasionally trapped in its tendrils the air crushed out of my lungs, gasping for space to breathe.
No. I will not wish these dogs days onwards. I will wish them to pause and for time to drip slowly over the grind of the day. It is a bitter brew that gets poured out over the future. Here’s is to golden days, to the heat and to the light and to the lushness of September. Here’s to October’s drawing down and my favorite holiday of the year. I am not ready to be thankful for anything just yet. Besides, Joni is still singing about Woodstock, and nothing much pleases me more right now.