Sunday, September 2, 2018

The End of Summer

It was the kind of end to summer that felt unreal.

The kind where we sat out on the deck and ate watermelon chunks so cold and sweet, they hurt my teeth. The kind where crickets began to sing as the sun descended into the horizon, like an orchestra reacting to dipped lights in the theater.

It was the kind of end that saw us driving miles to Anacortes, stopping at Five Guys for milkshakes and burgers along the way. We packed our car onto a ferry to Friday Harbor; drivers turning their side-mirrors in before meandering up the metal stairs in search of stale pretzels and views of the Puget Sound. Some just slept.

California's wildfires brought a haze to the island that made everything grey and muted. Even the sun. I squinted and looked up, but didn't see blue for days. It was the end of the summer, but could it be the end of the world?

Because if it was, we were enjoying the best of the best: orca sightings just a few feet from where we stood; dolphins teasing us with their fins at sunset; seals doggy paddling to shore. Oysters so creamy, they tasted like nuggets of sweet butter; sandwiches that cost a fortune but were worth every penny. Birthday cake ice cream and spot shrimp and seafood Cobb salad with Ranch dressing and excellent table service.

Mornings spent watching the sun rise outside with a coffee in hand and a baby asleep in my lap, both of us wrapped in a blanket. Afternoons spent casting fishing lines into the water over and over again without success and crabs caught instead. Evenings spent marooned in front of the TV watching Jurassic Park and Disney films.

And because it was the kind of end to summer where I looked up one day and saw a baby I'd never met before - one who rolled from his back to front before looking to me for praise and approval - and I saw parents who looked older and a dad who just looked more tired ... because it was that kind of end, my heart seemed to escape its place in my chest and shoot through my throat, because it had nowhere else to go.

It hurt.

A lot.

But it was also exciting, and lovely, and bittersweet.

And it was the kind of end I wouldn't forget.

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