September 10, 2015

When I think of summer I think of riding my bike in flip flops, or maybe bare feet. Summer is when my skin turns brown; the hair on my arms golden, barely there. It’s the season of no comb.

Summer is the sound of boats racing in the harbor down the street. It’s the cross breeze cooling things down around five and the sky staying lit past eight while kids zoom by on their skateboards until the very last minute. It’s slurping popsicles before they melt.

Summer means warm breezes, trips to the beach and bitching at each other trying to find a parking spot in a lot that’s been jammed since early morning. “Screw this let’s just go home. No way we’ve been looking for half an hour. Wait, there’s one!”

Summer is watching all the flowers I planted in spring bloom and grow, being able to give them a cool drink at the end of a hot day. Reading a book in a quiet space created by me. Seeing my neighbors barbecuing next door and all of us waving at each other with big grins. “Can I interest you in some green onions? Sure, trade you for some rosemary!”

Usually there is a trip to my parents’ farm and maybe a camping trip to the lake like when we were kids. Summer in Canada is something I look forward to all year long. New kittens in the barn. How many? What color? How long until they run towards me instead of away? Green grass and green trees and green everything. That sweet smell in the air. What is it? We always say we’re going to figure it out, but never do. It’s just summer. Standing in my mom’s garden eating peas straight off the vine. Staying up until eleven before the sun even considers going down. Always a fire in the pit in the backyard. Sometimes a cold beer.

When I think of summer I do not think of water rationing. Or abstaining from planting anything new because I’m too concerned about keeping the things already in my care alive. The word summer doesn’t conjure up images of choosing which days to water plants and which day to wash laundry.

Summer is not a string of 90 and 100 degree days that grow into weeks or watching my neighbor’s lawn turn brown and die, most of it now dust.

Summer is not seeing the face of your favorite cat friend plastered on missing posters taped to lamp posts all over the neighborhood, joining the sea of other posters of other missing cats you haven’t even met yet. Summer shouldn’t be coyotes patrolling your neighborhood looking for food because all their food sources have long since died in the blistering heat. It shouldn’t mean hours on the internet searching the faces of hundreds of cats in animal shelters for a maybe, a long shot, an ever hopeful what if.

If you ask me, summer is not when your landlord gives you twelve hours notice before listing the house you’ve lived in for ten years for sale. It isn’t entertaining interested buyer after interested buyer to make sure pictures of your personal belongings aren’t photographed for someone’s maybe purchase. It definitely isn’t finding those pictures on the internet after you were specifically told no pictures will be taken of your unit.

Summer is not a canceled trip to Canada or realizing it will be more than a year since you’ve last seen your family.

Summer is not a bulging disc in your back, barely possessing the ability to walk or talk or frankly even see straight due to pain at an eleven. It’s not learning what pain at an eleven even is or lying on the floor contemplating drugs and extreme ways out after you’ve been unable to move for three consecutive days.

Summer is not hauling yourself up and down the stairs multiple times a week unsure of whether you’re sweating from the heat, the pain or both so that strangers can take a quick peek (for an hour) while casually noting, “You do not look good, you actually look white as a ghost.”

“You’re not selling that Janis Joplin picture are you?”

Summer is learning to stifle your own screams.

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  • Reply lena September 12, 2015 at 1:42 am

    DAMMIT, this is not cool. I’m sorry–sending you as much Big Sur feelings as I can find.

    • Reply This Free Bird September 14, 2015 at 6:27 pm

      Nope it is not cool. It is HOT as in MY ASS IS ON FIRE WHERE’S THE DOOR! If only I could win all the money and live in Big Sur. Or Carmel. Or Monterey. Someday Lena, SOMEDAY!

  • Reply Nadia September 11, 2015 at 4:37 am

    ***I meant to write that I can’t imagine having to move ON TOP of everything else you are dealing with.

    • Reply This Free Bird September 14, 2015 at 6:25 pm

      When it rains it pours only in Southern California that means when it heats up it just keeps getting hotter and hotter and hotter and hotter…. and then I don’t know what happens. Hopefully I get out of here? A girl can dream! I’m trying to stay upbeat, but it has really worn me thin. All the other uncertainty and then this piled on has been a lot to try and absorb (sanely). Thanks for the positive vibes, I’ll take and appreciate them tremendously!

  • Reply Nadia September 11, 2015 at 4:36 am

    Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry to hear about everything you are going through. I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to have to move in general, let alone your home for a decade. Sending positive (and healing) thoughts your way. xo

  • Reply MarlaD September 10, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    I feel ya, girlfriend.

    I’m a native, and I’ve never seen Southern California as butt ugly as it is right now. It’s only emphasized when you get back from Kauai, where your eyes adjust to seeing everything in various shades of sparkling green and blue and it rains pretty much every day. I literally danced in the rain fully clothed over there and it felt so good.

    The landlord listing the house for sale is the WORST. I had this happen to me more than once in my early renting days and I’m still scarred. As a result of the “very bad relationship thing” that happened to me a couple of years ago, I had to sell my home and am temporarily renting and it’s been a little over a year and I haven’t fully unpacked because I feel like any minute I could get that notice that the place is going on the market. It’s HORRIBLE. Sending good vibes your way, and hope that all this is only putting you on the path of something amazing. The image of the kittens running toward you from the barn is a soothing one to keep close to mind.

    • Reply This Free Bird September 14, 2015 at 6:22 pm

      I’m glad you got a break in Kauai. After the horrible heat and staring at pretty much concrete and dead grass and trees, it starts to wear on a person. You really do need to see nature to revive your spirit, corny as it may sound. As for the rental situation, ugh. I actually like renting, provided the landlord is fair. I mean we got not even a full day’s notice that it was being listed and it’s been a circus ever since. After 10 years and a decent relationship with the guy, plus taking really good care of his property, it would have been nice to get a few months notice just to be able to plan ahead a little. But at the end of the day I can’t control his behavior, and I’m trying to stay focused on a good solution that works for me and my cats 🙂 I hope you find peace in your place and can unpack some things and truly relax. This back and forth crap sucks rocks.

  • Reply Jen September 10, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    WHAT??? I only knew a sliver of this. I am so bummed to read about what you have been going through. I hope you’ve had local friends/community support in all of this, especially with family at a distance. And I certainly hope that trip to Canada can happen sooner rather than later.

    Maybe this is the sign that it’s time to relo? I don’t know, those things are always easier said than done. I wish I could do more or offer brilliant insight. Just know I totally support whatever your next move is and if there’s anything I can do, PM me.

    And keep a close eye on BF, that missing cat stuff is seriously traumatic. Happens all the time in my brother’s town up in Marin, I see the missing cat signs and it just breaks my heart.

    Sending you major prayers for strength, guidance and always keeping your brilliant sense of wit and humor even in the dark times.

    • Reply This Free Bird September 14, 2015 at 6:18 pm

      I’m keeping my eyes on BF and bringing him in early when he does go out for a sniff of air. The whole situation has been a tough bottle of pills to swallow. Thanks for the well wishes. I am always, always looking for a door to open so I can get the hell out of here. Also covering bases and looking locally for a new rental. May the right and good next step unfold soon!

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