Vacation Aspirations, Swimming Pool Schemes, and the Last Gifts of Summer

Summer Block
5 min readSep 14, 2019
Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

We got married! At the end of the day, at the end of the summer, on the edge of a mountainside, everything held still at the precipitous edge of fall. To begin the ceremony, my witch, Amanda Yates Garcia, called forth the four elements from the four corners of the earth, and when she called to the spirits of the air in the east, a wind blew in, right on cue. Later Amanda texted to say that the east is the place of new beginnings, where the sun rises.

This year we made the mistake of scheduling all our day camps and road trips for the first few weeks of summer break, and so by the time August came around, there was nothing left to look forward to. At the beginning of summer break I had asked each kid to set one or two goals for their vacation: Beatrice wanted to write a long-form graphic novel and learn to use the loom she got for Christmas; Arthur wanted to design and sew a jacket, and to learn to do card tricks; William wanted to learn to swim and to read. It all started very idyllically. Beatrice took up horseback riding; William joined a club of neighborhood children who waged regular water gun battles in the park. We took the kids to see Twelfth Night in Griffith Park, Arthur proclaimed it “exquisite,” he came home with a new love of Shakespeare and began memorizing monologues. We went to the public pool almost every day and William made slow but steady progress on swimming.

It all came apart. Or rather, it unspooled, as summer does, it came to nothing. An older girl called William a baby for wearing water wings and he refused to get back in the pool for the rest of the summer. Beatrice began picking pointless arguments with me, culminating in her adamant refusal to wear a sun shirt over her swimsuit and my adamant refusal to let her swim without one. Beatrice and William lost interest in Arthur’s monologues and card tricks. and he started to whine about missing his school friends, a new audience; like a comic who had worn through the same set too many times at the same bars, he longed to take his show on the road.

My nostalgia for summers past is largely a nostalgia for boredom, and the sort of endless afternoons that ticked over brown-carpet bedrooms and apartment complex swimming pools. (In fact, most of our summers were spent scheming about…

Summer Block

Writer for Catapult, Longreads, The Awl, The Toast, The Rumpus, McSweeney’s, and so on. Owner of After-Party Taxidermy. Working on a book about Halloween.