-Winter is the time for work; summer for play. This is the message ingrained on my psyche by years of experience. It is once again summer, and I am trapped.
Most people tend to romanticize the past and I am no exception. Last summer was a whirlwind of planning and travel for the wedding and honeymoon. There isn't a question in my mind; I would trade anything to go back.
-Before that was 2003, a summer Karen and I spent in the tiny spare room of my mother's house in Buffalo. No air conditioning, barely enough room for two of us on the bed. I loved it. She worked at a local restaurant, I worked at the Hard Rock Cafe. We spent warm nights in the city with friends, ate our favorite foods, and I proposed to her on the marble steps of Albright-Knox. A summer of magic.
-In 2002 Karen lived with her mother and with friends in New Jersey. I went to Buffalo and worked at the Hard Rock. Getting there was a 30 minute drive along the Niagara River under a beautiful summer sky. The work was hard and money adequate. This was before my friends had 'real' jobs; we spent so many mornings at the $8 golf course and so many late nights at Matt's apartment, playing video games and hanging out. One night, at Holly's Parkside house, we got pulled into a late night game of croquet in Delaware Park. We went over and under the wrought iron fence to utilize the well manicured croquet and bocce lawns. Under the lights and through the dew we swung mallets until park security showed up. A few minutes of making nice and we get off with a warning, and he didn't throw us out. The best night of that summer was my impulsive drive to NJ to see my future wife. I showed up, unannounced, to spend two days with her and her friends. The following school year proved to be the absolute low point of my life and relationship, yet that late night burn over to the Jersey state will always stick out on the highlight reel of life.
-Now, summer of 2005. I don't recognize my own life. I have Karen, and that's the most important thing, but neither of us are happy with how things are working out. You say it's our first year working, and the dues need to be paid. Yes, but what is the reward? More money and more work? Perhaps I need to look at the fine print again. She's miserable, I'm out of energy. How do you add kids to this mix?
-I sit here, watching the minutes of my lunch hour tick down to zero and I can't help staring at the rain soaked window. In my former life I wouldn't hesitate to venture into the warm drops and hit golf balls. "The rain gets harder, making the 250 yard marker hard to read. Water rolls from my forehead to my nose, pauses for a moment before plummeting to the green turf between my feet. I keep my head down, adjust my grip for the water and pull the driver back, slowly at first. At the apex, I switch directions and pull the club along its path, never taking my eyes off the ball. The rain thunders down as the club head connects with the ball, launching it into the distance where it will fight vainly against the falling water to maintain its loft. I tee up another ball, soaked." Now, if you could see this in my head, you'd hear a song by the Shins and much of my action would be in dramatic slow motion, including several insert shots of rain drops splashing against the club head and turf mat. I could shoot this in a day, and it would be really fucking good, because I am that good. And I'm doing what with my life?
-I won't do any of this. My Polo shirt and Nautica khakis would be soaked; I'd have to sit in my cube like this...and the soundtrack to that part of my day wouldn't have nearly the dramatic effect. And is life about anything other than dramatic effect? That's all we want, to know that someone else feels the same thing that we do; that maybe for a moment we can be something other than alone.