Savannah Morning News column
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Maybe it’s the noise, a familiar sign of late summer when the din of cicadas is so loud you can hardly think, let alone talk to the person sitting across the table from you in the backyard (until midnight or perhaps five in the morning and those little tree critters are finally taking a break, maybe even sleeping) or keep your concentration on that book that sits in your lap.
Maybe it’s the new school bus schedules when a whole new bunch of kids with new clothes in clean new school colors are waiting on new corners with other kids they don’t know – not yet, at least – reading cell phones, waiting for buses with unfamiliar drivers following unfamiliar routes, while last year’s crowd is gone, some old enough to ride their bikes to ninth grade classes or lucky enough to walk to a neighborhood school.
Maybe it’s the traditional Labor Day weekend, a turning point of sorts in the year, not unlike New Year’s Day, when the sun sets that much earlier and some outdoor pools dare to close, when you know this will be the last time you can get a parking spot downtown that easily before the crush of art students, when despite the heat you know that another summer is over and the really, really busy part of the year is ahead and maybe if you linger around the dinner table just that much longer and go to bed that much later you can put off the onslaught of future holidays, celebrations and festivals and just breathe, just take the time to enjoy the moment. The calendar, now a little vague, a little open, will fill up soon enough.
Or maybe it was the movie I saw this week, “Boyhood,” a tour de force made over a 12-year span, following the life of a young boy (played, by the way, by the same young actor), a movie that is sticking around in my memory bank.
Milestones, it would seem, are on my mind.
It’s not hard to chalk up a few. Just looking around my own neighborhood from last September to this September I can count two new babies, at least two deaths and one divorce. I know two families who moved away (one to Austin, another to Los Angeles) and three houses that are for sale (two others have sold). I know one household that took off for what seemed like a month in Maine, another that went to the Galapagos, a third that put their money where their mouth is and traded in a traditional gas-guzzler for a battery-operated car. Stretching the concept of neighborhood, I know a brave and adventurous young woman who is teaching biology in Tanzania as part of the Peace Corps, an idea that is still grabbing people some 53 years after President Kennedy launched the program, and another equally brave woman who is starting who second year of teaching, a vocation once thought easy but now considered fraught with challenge.
I know one man who decided at age 68 to go divinity school to become an Episcopal priest. On the other end of the age spectrum, I listen to a phone message by a two-and-a-half year old singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” which, her mother tells me, shares the same melody at the ABC song (who knew?).
I know several people with relatives fighting cancer and that doesn’t count the former neighbor who is trapped by Lou Gehrig’s – a Western dude who used to wear skirts more than I ever did – a disease that will hopefully benefit from the bizarre but brilliant ice-dunking fund-raising caper that has gone viral.
The lesson of “Boyhood” lingers. We grey. We thicken. We mellow. We outgrow height-charts in houses, trade in a GTO for a family van, change our haircuts and hair color. Life, if we are lucky, moves us along.