Friday, September 4, 2009

Manning the Laboring Oar

We gather today for the last hurrah. For the 7% of the school-age population in this country that has apparently not already commenced the Aught-Nine/Ten school year, today marks the end of the line. A line marked in the sand of a beach. Or perhaps on the macadam of a playground or in the dirt of an infield.

If there was any reasonable debate to be had on the subject prior to this morn's dawn, it ends here. Awaiting the populace at the end of this extended weekend (again, I know not whether it is ironic that we observe Labor Day by refraining from labor) is September. Once upon a time in the practice of law here in Levelland, September heralded the resumption of the adult swim portion of the program. Most practitioners and prognosticators of all things legal would spend the hazy days of summer telling judges, clients and one another why one matter or another simply could not go forward and more often than not would put those matters off until "the fall". Perhaps it appealed to the part of us that is forever six years old. You know the part of you and me of which I speak - the inner child who shouts down work at every opportunity in favor of something "fun" to do. It seems to me that this summer was the first one I can recall since I started practicing law in which I saw more adults than six-year-olds trapped in big people clothes roaming the halls of our State courthouses. Apparently the start time for "adult swim" was moved up this term. A recess from summer in lieu of a summer recess.

While I spend even less time combing the beach than I do my ever-graying hair, I enjoy the summer as much as anyone. The band of brothers with whom I play softball annually congregates and participates in summer softball leagues only. Throughout the years, many things have changed for us, including but not limited to the type of league in which we play, the town in which we play and the roster of players with whom we play. One thing has remained constant: it is a principally summertime activity, beginning just as Spring cedes the stage in early to mid-May and concluding, weather permitting, just as Fall arrives (taking out a full page ad in the trades to make the official announcement).

As this summer ends, our little band is very much in a state of flux. Those of us who play are growing older every day. Dave is getting married. Diego, our titular leader, is leaving today a position he has held for a number of years to pursue his very own brand spanking new excellent adventure. Perhaps not surprisingly he has not sought any advice from me regarding it. His young children continue to grow, as do David's and John's and Christian's and all of them, as their principal role has expanded simply from husband to husband and father have given up other roles. And from what I have seen, each has done it happily and wholeheartedly, knowing as each does in heart and in his gut what is truly important. Every year in the spring those of us who play together get together to start to practice and play games and we feel energized. As if we are participating in an activity that keeps us young. Every year in the gloaming of the late summer/early fall evening on which our season annually ends, that energy feels as if it is a million miles away. As if we are reminded that while the road may indeed go on forever, our passage upon it shall not. And the end of this particular phase of our life is - in fact - up ahead in the distance. The question is not "if" it is there but simply "where".

As summer fades from the calendar this year, I worry - as I often do - about Margaret. Summer is usually the time of the year in which she recharges the super battery on which she often appears ready to run into perpetuity. This year that did not happen. The part of the year on which she counts the most took her best friend from her when her Mom died in early June. There was no time really devoted to recharging her batteries - save for perhaps the week we spent invading Rob's space in Wyoming - as her time was occupied by tougher tasks.

And now, like a boardwalk business cursed by June's steady rains, her summer has not been the success she hoped it would be. The success I hope that she did not in fact need it to be just to make it throw the days of lengthening shadows in the months to come. She is resilient, my wife (as if being married to an idiot does not provide a daily opportunity to test that element of her character), and I am confident that she shall be fine. Perhaps not today or next week even but somewhere - up ahead in the distance. For the question is not "if" a better day awaits her but simply "where".

If it is true that home is anywhere you hang your head, then I reckon that irrespective of the date on the calendar Margaret can hold onto at least a little bit of summer for a little while longer. The secret it appears is in the timing. And so long as it is right, anything is possible.

-AK

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