June 7, 2009
Summer in the City

I just stepped in off the fire escape, where I was watching the twilight fade to black in its barely-perceptible, summery way. From the third floor, I could see all around the courtyard of this block of brownstones, of which my home is a part.

The building next door has been vacant for awhile, as the tenants moved out, and the building was sold to new owners. The small yard behind it is a jungle of green – trees and weeds, and big-leafed plants that have sprung up effortlessly. At the back of the yard is a fence, and set of low-hanging wires. Climbing the fence and sprawling over the wires, is a honeysuckle plant, and tonight from my metal cage of a perch, I got the slightest hint of the flowery fragrance dancing on the breeze, which was utterly subtle.

The soft feel of the air on my skin, and the fading pink light (at precisely what moment, I wonder, does it turn to purple-y blue?) reminded me of my childhood in Cleveland, Ohio, knowing that that change of light is the indication that I’m pushing my limits on how late I should be out roller-skating, bike-riding, turning cartwheels on people’s lawns, as I try to squeeze every last morsel of fun out of the evening as it becomes night.

In the summer (and in general, actually, as I got older), my parents were lax about a bedtime, and so I knew it would get locked inside, apart from the neighborhood kids, and into some kind of night-time adventure with my siblings in the basement my father had finished for us, and turned into a playroom. Perhaps we would record one of our infamous “radio shows” into the cassette recorder, or make up choreography to Madonna videos we had taped off the TV.

Summer evenings feel this way to me – like I want to stay outside for that one last moment, to see if I can squeeze a little more delight into the day before I turn inside to dinner, a book, a movie, whatever entertainment I can find – which will hold all that much more pleasure if I know I used every last moment of the day as best I could. Tonight, I breathed in the distant, gentle scent of honeysuckle, which also grew on a fence near a parking lot where I used to ride my bike as I child, and was comforted. I wondered if this moment was unique, or if I am always carrying this desire inside to return to my childhood.

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