September is the most beautiful, still so full of summer, warm sands, salt water holding onto August heat. The humidity drops, the sky is clear. Bright blue, high clouds or no clouds. Achingly gorgeous sunsets, topaz, violet, and maroon.
Sometimes hurricanes come in September. We'd ride them out at the beach, leaning into the wind. Waves would rise to cliff-height and crash down, seething white over the sand, across the boardwalk, into the boat basin. And then the weather would clear, and we'd clean up the branches and leaves and broken windows. My house was built in 1938, survived the famous hurricane that devastated our area, and all storms since.
Early September brought conflict, i.e. school. It required a complete alteration of mind and mood, a radical revision of self, to go from the beach's freedom to school's schedules. We learned a lot in both places. But to this day I know I was one person at the beach and another once school began.
Yesterday a friend and I walked through the city. We headed downtown from 23rd St. The day was hot. Tenth Avenue reflected the heat. We were on our way to a meeting. Business, like school, starts up after Labor Day. I wore loafers and real pants, not jeans. My teeshirt wasn't torn or gigantic or from Surfrider. It looked vaguely legit. I sat around a big table with bright, creative people who talked about exciting things. I had a coffee. My friend brought amazing cookies. We all partook as we discussed. I particularly enjoyed the carrot cake cookie. It felt good to be part of a whole--the way I always wanted school to feel. My desk, the cats notwithstanding, can feel lonely.
Have I mentioned I was a September baby? I, and other September children with whom I've spoken, always feel renewed this time of year. One dearest friend and I have birthdays separated by just a few days and for many years have managed to celebrate them together. She lives in LA and I live in New York but that never seems to matter.
On September will go. Soon I'll be heading east on the way to my niece's wedding. By dusk I'll be swimming in the Sound. I'll have a massively festive reunion with whomever we're lucky enough to see. The cottage is inhabited by ghosts, no joke, and we'll be glad for their company. One early morning I hope to walk the beach, through the marsh, up the hidden path.
The air will be warm but not as warm. I'll smell the leaves changing. The air will be spicy with rose hips and young grapes. The bay will flash silver with bait. I'll swim as often as there's time. My thoughts are already deeply with my niece, for whose wedding we'll be gathering. It's the main thing. Sometimes, with such a big, important event on the horizon, this one in particular because it's so dear, so incredibly tender, it's hard to imagine bothering with all the minutia of the days leading up.
But life being life, there's a lot to do before getting to that moment. It's a moving meditation, the way of September. Ineffable beauty. Deep dreams and memories. Things to do. Including swimming. Attempting to fathom the unfathomable. Attending a wedding. Celebrating Molly and Alex. And to quote my sister Maureen who was quoting someone else, "love, love, love."
Try to remember. Thank you, Jerry Orbach.