Thinking back over this past weekend I was reminded of how the Labor Day weekend always signaled a time of change in my life. I remembered how the holiday signaled that the summer was well and truly over no matter if the solstice didn’t end until later in September. No, summer was over for me and my crew because most times we had been in school at least a week before the holiday. New hard bottom shoes had to be broken in just as much as mean, old teachers in my new classes. Depending on how rigid the frame, the teachers and the shoes could take a long time to get used to.
I always approached new school terms with a sense of dread because I worried if this was the year I would fail horribly in my classes or be embarrassed by some pretty girl when I tried to get her number at the lockers between classes. Stupid fears really that make me laugh thirty years later but were so, so insurmountable back then. Those fears kept me focused though and if my grades are any indication I kept my eyes fixed on the sparrow. The success with girls would come at a later time even if I could have done without the wait.
No, Labor Day meant no more humid days playing baseball with my brother and cousins in the vacant lot behind my mom’s house as long as the sun was shining. No more being blown to the back of the theater by loud explosions while watching sci-fi extravaganzas on twelve foot movie screens munching on stale popcorn and scarfing down sugary sodas. No more staying up all night playing video games on a rinky-dink Atari 2600 on a rinkier-dinkier black and white television because there was no way my mom was going to let us use the color set. No more buying double-sized comic book annuals or getting lost among the stacks and rows of the town’s central library trying to find books full of sex and violence to keep me excited and titillated for the three months I was out of school.
All that came to screeching halts every year in late August when the first day of school started. I think losing those hazy, lazy days disappointed me more than my fears scared me. It took me awhile and much maturity to realize those days were and still are precious to me because they were so finite. The definite span of them reminds me still to be happy with all the riches I had in my life when I was a snot-nosed kid. Riches in the metaphorical not literal sense because there isn’t enough silver and gold to make me part with those memories or the family and friends who helped make those times priceless.
Yeah, that’s why Labor Day more than any holiday may be the most nostalgic for me because it’s the one that reminds me to open up the floodgates and let those memories wash over me. Memories much more sweeter to me now that I’m in the late summer of my years and a few of the people who helped make those memories have shuffled on off this coil. I’ll have to shuffle off one day too but those remembrances of my fun times in the summertime when the livin’ was easy have given me the mental strength to deal with whatever the unknown of my future days throws my way.
That’s all anyone can ask for and I’m no different.
–Jason O. Logan