The Purple of Life

She told me to hold on to the purple in my life.

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Location: Chicago, United States

I'm a 37-year-old editor and city dweller, wife and mother, moderately liberal and radically optimistic. I would fill my perfect day with a cup of coffee and the Op Ed section, a flea market and the playground, a run along Lake Michigan, a walk through the neighborhood with my son and my greyhound, a Cuban dinner and a bottle of red with my husband, and an evening flight to some European city. I wouldn't be picky about which one.

July 13, 2010

This is summer 2010

John is in our new backyard, cutting the grass. OK, it’s not really a backyard; more like a backpatch. Our yard's dimensions are about equal to a king-size bedspread. But it’s still grass and it still grows, so he bought an electric grass trimmer—the kind people use to trim around sidewalks—and it does the trick. Next he takes on staining the deck. It all feels so grownup, so white-picket-fence, so summer.

I think about my dad cutting the lawn with the old push mower. A quintessential summer smell, that and the marigolds ringing our vegetable garden to keep the rabbits away. We have a pot with some yellow marigolds on our back deck, and sometimes I stop to breathe it in, that sharp clean sent that abruptly rockets me back to, say, 1984, to a Pennsylvania suburb, to playing spy with my little sister around the corners of our backyard…fireflies in plastic bug houses, zucchini bread and sprinklers and bee stings and the apple tree, the cherry tree. How lucky am I to have those memories?

We make new ones now, in our new home, in our little family of two, three with the dog. Now we have a deck; we sit outside to eat dinner and, on the weekends, breakfast—“It feels like we’re on vacation,” I always remark. We bring Stella’s bed outside and she drowses in the warm breeze. I deadhead the geraniums and petunias when I return from my runs. I’m up to 11 miles now—I did that this past weekend, I ran 11 miles, no walking except for water stops, and although that last mile was hell in the scorching sun, I did it. This summer, I run three times during the week and do my long run on Saturday mornings. I dread it and I love it. I think about it often as Monday slides toward Friday. I wonder if I can do 9, 10, 11, and now 12, but each time, I can. The half-marathon is in two months.

I walk Stella and listen to the old church bells tolling through our neighborhood that I love so much. I’m starting to recognize faces now, and we smile at each other as we pass. I shop at the neighborhood farmers’ market for greens, berries, lamb, mushrooms, milk. We drive to the dog beach and watch our greyhound sprint and leap in the waves and across the sand. We go to street fests to hear music. We pack picnics and sit in the grass. We camp with a horde of family on the dunes of Lake Michigan. We choose our weekend restaurants based on whether they have outdoor seating.

John plays his guitar better than he ever has before, thanks to lessons, and I play with my new DSLR camera. We eat a lot of grilled food and invite people over to eat it with us. We drink a lot of microbrews. We feel stressed about work, but then the stress passes. I do freelance editing. When I finish a chapter, I eat an ice cream bar and watch an episode of Season 1 of Mad Men. The money will help pay for plane tickets to Italy.

This is summer 2010, and there probably will never be another summer quite like it.

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Blogger Christine said...

What a fabulous post!!!! I was just remarking to someone that i need to reflect upon summer before it's over. After reading this, i really feel that way. I can almost smell the fresh cut grass...

6:17 PM  
Blogger Pixie said...

This is just what I needed to read today! So glad you are having a lovely summer and I could feel the joy and happiness while reading your post. Thanks for sharing that. And congrats on the distance in your running!

6:49 PM  
Blogger Birdie said...

I'm totally feeling it! Your memories are lovely - fresh cut grass and dried leaves are my two favorite smells.

Sounds like you are doing excellent with running and getting everything you can out of this summer.

9:28 PM  
Anonymous wendryn said...

Sounds like life is good. I'm impressed at the running! This reminds me of the good things about summer.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Ah, summer! I love it. You captured some great memories in this post.

My husband plays guitar too and I just got a new DSLR :)

8:58 AM  

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