September marks our year, forcing reflection. I remember a Friday night in late August, many years ago. I was still single in San Francisco, living in a dark burrow of an apartment, on the slope of Nob Hill.
August 22, 1997 Friday
Silent, vacant days.
Work was a joke, everyone plotting their escape. I sent out an e-mail about meeting for drinks after work. Most people didn’t get it or were on their way out of town or didn’t care. I went to the bar in North Beach anyway, in case someone showed up. Drank two glasses of wine, the room spinning elegantly, ordered dinner. No one came. I was neither surprised or disappointed in them, except for a new Chinese girl whom I have a crush on.
Other young, pretty people infiltrated the bar. One woman sat with her long hair flying, her tummy exposed in the current fashion, expecting her boyfriend any minute. Voices grew louder and turned with the spinning room. Underneath them the sustained hammers of Joaquin Nin-Culmell sang a dirge for the summer of 1997.
August is exhausted. The last rose of summer lies limp, dilated, consumed by the ministrations of her eager lovers. A gold blade of evening sun cuts through the window glass. It’s over. Whatever we thought this summer would be, whatever we hoped for, dreaded or deserved. It came or it didn’t. Whatever we had—in thought or reality—is lost now, sealed up and closed down, frozen in memory, ended for all eternity.
Think of all the young Americans, teenagers and college students, on their way to Europe in June, their identical blue jeans bursting with libido. Tireless lovers, aspiring drug addicts, warriors against adulthood, victims of sun and bad food and nights sleeping on crowded trains and too much great art, searing their innocent blue eyes.
How I loved them! How I wanted to be with them and to be one of them. Now they drag home. They sit in airport lounges, or stand in long lines, phoning their parents in the New World with a final plea to send more money. And whatever they wanted from this summer, whoever they lusted for; it happened or it didn’t. The happened and the unhappened are both put away, into the same oblivion.
So, too, in my North Beach bar, the young and pretty clientele don’t know how late it is. The summer is over, only they don’t realize it. In Texas, my nieces and nephews are in school already. And the first niece—whose grandfather held her up at Rylie Church 19 years ago this fall—is at college and settled in her dorm room, busy becoming an adult.