July Sunlight

Another one of those memory stories. Even though this is already August, the sunlight still conjures up vivid memories.

The hot summer in late afternoon. The sunlight always looked a certain way, deeper, somehow– and fuller. The heat would still catch up with you if you lingered too long. Best to find a shady spot. But that didn’t seem to keep people from enjoying the outside, even as the pavement sizzled.

Working downtown in the summer always felt different than the rest of the year– somehow it felt like time out of place. Like you could snap your fingers and presto, you’re transported to 1983. Or 1978. The light just looks older. It makes me think of my mother too, and how she used to work downtown. I have an old memory of going down on one of those hot days in our old Chevy to pick her up. Looking out at all the working people, dressed up but headed home for the day. The windows of the car were always open, no A/C, and it was hot.

Before there was even the thought of me, she worked downtown, going about life in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. I wonder if she thought the light looked different, older, even then.

That same light was with me throughout all the summers of my childhood, usually starting in mid-July. It would last through the end of August– framed by the noise of the cicadas throughout the day, and the katydids at night. By the time September came, it was gone. Now it was time to get ready for Autumn, and all that entailed. Even though I haven’t gone back to school in a long time, September always feels like the start of a school year, no matter what.

I no longer work downtown, but sometimes can still catch glimpses of that sunlight. I look forward to seeing more.

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