Many years and a lifetime ago with three ridiculously active sons, I spent all of my days off between June and August either at a baseball field or on the beach. It was infinitely satisfying sitting doing absolutely nothing except the NY Times Sunday Crossword (in pen) while enjoying a pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich along with a cup of coffee. The only way I knew where I was headed, was by what I wore. A tank top was important in keeping my tan lines in check, but wearing a bathing suit to a baseball game would have embarrassed the hell out of my sons.
Watching baseball games with Wingman was fine, but going to the beach with him was not. While the boys took all of about 10 seconds to scatter like cockroaches from the horrors of being associated with us, going with Wingman was akin to the hassle of bringing a baby: he needed a regular lounge chair with an umbrella, a blanket, radio, food, drink, sunscreen AND something to do. When he was bored, he wanted me to put down my book and talk to him. He wanted me-a non ocean person-to go in the water when HE was hot. Eventually he made us all happier when he chose to just stay home and watch the Yankees on TV.
Being on my own these past six years, I've tried to make summers different from the ones before Wingman died. The first was my “Karma” year volunteering with the YMCA to build a playground and again with another group, helping special needs kids enjoy the beach. The second was a feeble attempt to rework Wingman's yard. I've been to Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, circuses and fairs. No, I didn't get arrested for scattering Wingman's ashes in Monument Park, and yes, the circus protesters did, trying to free the elephants.
I saw Broadway shows and rock concerts, heard bands at bars and went to a couple of barbecues. There were the predictable sunsets to see, beach with the BFF, and an almost annual tradition of going to Saratoga race track with son #3. I made a point to go to places that Wingman HATED like the crowded July 4th fireworks, firemen's fairs and even a mermaid parade.
And now, its fall and everyone's starfish and mermaids have morphed into pumpkins. The shelves in the grocery store are filled not only with Halloween candy but some marketing idiot's idea that pumpkin Cheerios, pumpkin Oreos and even pumpkin pie Pop Tarts are a good idea. I'm ready to close my eyes again and wake up on Christmas Eve.
But first, I have a new Bucket List for fall. One that's already started with a high school football game, and a trip to Yankee Stadium, and includes a street fair, a couple of concerts (including one on my birthday seeing The Boss) and going to Florida with the BFF. I have question marks next to places like a Lantern Festival, Sleepy Hollow at Halloween, and oh yes, moving-a task not yet complete from my summer list. If it doesn't happen real soon, the item "visit a jail or penitentiary" will get a check mark, because I will put a beating on someone.
I read somewhere that if you make friends with yourself, you might be alone, but you will never be lonely. The voices in my head at 2 AM most nights can attest to that. Being alone means that I'm the lead dog and can do just about anything new and exciting I find, which is great, because, as they sang in "Bye Bye Birdie": "I've got a lot of living to do".
I just wish I was doing it IN THE SUMMER.