Musings & Thoughts for Friday, July 29, 2022, or: Wait, Wait! Do You Mean to Tell Me that July is Almost Over?

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“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.

Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.

Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.

Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.” Yoko Ono

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So, here we are on Friday, July 29, 2022, on the last working day of the month and on the cusp of July’s last weekend.

And, of course, when I perceive how swiftly fly the days as I grow older, I’m surprised – nay, stunned – by the weird way in which time seems to go forward faster and faster in subjective time.

I mean, in my nearly 60-year-old mind, it seems like it wasn’t that long ago when those days of summer were lazy, hazy, and seem to last forever. Especially when I was a kid who preferred to stay home for summer vacation instead of going to summer school in July and August back in the 1970s.[1]

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In the three or four summers that I spent “at home” when I lived with Mom at 1001 SW 102nd Avenue in Westchester, Florida, the days seemed to pass at a snail’s pace, although how slowly time went depended on what I was doing. If the weather were good and the thunderstorms were not overhead, a typical day in that lovely time between mid-June and late August would go by comparatively quickly.

“The island is ours. Here, in some way, we are young forever.” ― E. Lockhart, We Were Liars

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Usually, I’d wake up around 8 or 9 in the morning, and have a big breakfast – either prepared by my mom or, after I turned 11, me – in the cozy kitchen which, when we lived there, had a nice booth with a round table where we ate most of our meals – the adjacent dining room was reserved for special occasions such as Thanksgiving or Nochebuena – or did our mother-son socializing. After I finished breakfast and washed my dishes and utensils, I’d then go to our single complete bathroom, which was just north of my bedroom on the left side of the house, take a shower, wrap myself in a towel, then race into my room to get dressed. Back then I didn’t mind wearing shorts, so my usual summer garb was a pair of boys’ shorts or cutoff jeans, a T-shirt, socks, and sneakers. Then I’d rush back to the bathroom, brush my teeth and gargle with Scope mouthwash, and then – it was off to play with my neighborhood friends!

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Of course, how long I was outside wasting time with my pals depended on many variables. The two biggest were, naturally, the weather – in the subtropics, it can sometimes be capricious and go from sunny and balmy to gray and stormy in the wink of an eye, especially if you’re a kid who doesn’t pay attention to the weather forecasts in the TV news – and the availability of your friends and what plans they had.

But back in the mid-to-late 1970s, I often spent most of my time playing outdoors – “Army” and touch football games, mostly – with many of the other boys on our block. Some of them even joked about playing “matchmaker” between their barely older sisters and me so they would teach me about, of all things, sex. I never took those “I’ll fix you up with my sister if you want,” comments seriously. I met quite a few of those young girls – who were, at most, 14. and I never got the notion that they, as we used to say, liked me “that way.”

“Just when I think you’re my beginning, I find out you’re my end.”Kim Smejkal, Ink in the Blood

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Oh, and back then I had a girlfriend! We met in PE class at Tropical Elementary School in mid-November of 1972 and, for me at least, it was love at first sight. “Cathy” (not her real name) was one grade ahead of me at Tropical, and she was a pretty, vivacious redhead with gorgeous green eyes. Yes, I was nine years old, and she had just turned 10, but we were instantly attracted to each other and became a “couple” the same day that we met.

My relationship with “Cathy” lasted nearly four and a half years, and she was the first girl I ever kissed, and I mean really kissed, albeit without “deep” or “French kissing.”[2] We probably would have lasted longer had I been a bit more mature when I was a sixth grader or if she had not been one school year ahead of me; while I was still in my last year at Tropical Elementary in the 1976-1977 school year, “Cathy” had been promoted to seventh grade and was attending Riviera Junior High, which was only next door – literally – to Tropical physically but seemed to be on another level of existence as far as the way school was conducted and how the students interacted.

“Ah, clear they see and true they say

That one shall weep, and one shall stray”Dorothy Parker

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And as often happens in young-love situations where there are marked differences in maturity, interests, and knowledge about the ways of the world, we began to drift apart. “Cathy” is only four months older than I am, but in 1977 I was still more of a kid than she was, and since she saw guys in her seventh-grade classes that looked and acted a bit more grown-up than nerdy, bookish me, well, she was tempted to see what some of them might offer – without breaking up with me first.

I am not going to delve too much into that subject now; suffice it to say that our romance began to cool sometime between the start of the 1976-1977 school year and ended on the day after my 14th birthday. I was the one who ended it; at the end of my last visit to her house as “Cathy’s” boyfriend, I asked her why she seemed to be so distant and reluctant to hang out with me, even though she said she loved me and wanted to be my special girl still.

At first, she tried to convince me that our relationship had not changed and that she was just busier then because of the new structure of the school day and her heavier homework load. But shortly before somebody – perhaps my older half-sister; Mom was in Bogota, taking care of my ailing grandfather then –  was due to pick me up at “Cathy’s” house – this was at a time when none of my friends had cars, and I didn’t yet use public transport to get from Point A to Point B – “Cathy” finally confessed that there was a cute boy in one of her classes that had expressed interest in dating her; she had politely said, “No” a few times, but still, she was intrigued by him, and she was considering going out on a trial date to see how it went.

To my credit, I did not say anything then. I was hurt, confused, and angry, sure. But I was in her house, with her parents and some of her siblings around, and – unlike my half-sister Vicky – I was mindful of my surroundings and intuited that making a scene then and there would not be the right thing to do under any circumstances.

Wreathed in perhaps one of the most awkward blends of apprehension and silence, “Cathy” and I sat in her parents’ living room while we waited for my ride to pick me up. I don’t recall now if I pretended nothing had changed and spent the time making out with her like always or if I sulked while she tried to convince that she still loved me. I do know we did not yell at each other or even argue in normal speaking voices.

“The paradox for boys is that in order to be worthy of connection they must prove themselves invulnerable, button down warriors in the world’s emotional market place.” ― Terrence Real, How Can I Get Through to You?: Closing the Intimacy Gap Between Men and Women

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What I do remember was that I felt like my world was ending. I was already sad about my beloved grandfather’s failing health – shortly after New Year’s Day 1977, he had tripped on the sash of his bathrobe after a trip to the bathroom and broken a hip in the resulting fall. He was 79 and already frail, and a broken hip at his age was essentially a death sentence – and I was terrified about making the transition from Tropical Elementary to Riviera Junior High at the start of the 1977-1978 school year.

I also remember that it wasn’t until I was halfway home in the car that picked me up – I am 75% sure that it was my half-sister’s Ford Maverick, but It could have been someone else’s car – that I realized that the relationship was over and that I would break up with “Cathy” as soon as I could bring myself to do so.

The summer of 1977 – which came half-a-decade after Mom, Vicky, and I returned to Miami after living in Colombia for several years – was probably one of the last “forever summers” I experienced. It was not the happiest of summers; in addition to my breakup with “Cathy,” my grandfather died of complications from the hip injury that May, while in June my newly widowed grandmother then spent a month or so in Miami and convinced my mom to buy a townhouse in the brand new condominium called East Wind Lake Village. And in July and August of ’77 Mom and I moved out of 1001 SW 102nd Avenue and into another apartment (109B) in the same El Portal Apartments complex – in Sweetwater, Florida – where we had lived before Mom purchased 1001 in August of 1972.

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After that, summers began to seemingly progress faster and faster with each passing year. And now that I’m on the brink of turning 60, the once seemingly endless season seems to fly by at the speed of the Millennium Falcon making the infamous Kessel Run.

“For children, childhood is timeless. It is always the present. Everything is in the present tense. Of course, they have memories. Of course, time shifts a little for them and Christmas comes round in the end. But they don’t feel it. Today is what they feel, and when they say, ‘When I grow up,’ there is always an edge of disbelief—how could they ever be other than what they are?” Ian McEwan, The Child in Time

Tempus Fugit, indeed.

[1] I did go to summer school, albeit semi-voluntarily, at least once in the mid-1970s. I was attending Tropical Elementary School near Village Green, a Miami suburb in unincorporated Dade County, during one of those periods where Mom went to work and could not leave me unattended. I do not remember the exact year or the grade that I was in. I do recall that it was during this time in summer school that I lost my cherished copy of D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths; I took it to school one day shortly before the six-week summer session ended and left it on my unattended desk over the weekend. When I returned to school the following Monday, my book – a first edition from 1963 – had vanished.

The loss of that book, which turned me on to Greek mythology when I was 10 years old, bugged me well into adulthood. So much so, in fact, that I ordered a more recent edition – in hardcover, no less – from Amazon in April of 2018.

I also attended summer school between 10th and 11th grade after the 1980-1981 school year ended, and again between 11th and 12th grade the following school year. I always told people it was to clear space in my class schedule so I could take chorus and journalism classes. This was, on the surface, true. But the true reason was that my mother was dating a recently-retired pilot who was also an abusive drunkard and had a trail of broken marriages in his wake. He made my life a living hell from 1979 to 1985, so school was my “safe place” to be when things got bad at home.

[2] Later, even though we were not dating at the time, we would have serious making-out sessions and came perilously close to having sex. I was terrified of getting her pregnant – it was not easy to buy condoms when I was a young teenager – so I never tried going beyond “second base” or, as many guys referred to it, “bare second.”

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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