The Heart of Summer


DSC00008Summer is heat. It is sun. It is fun. It is vacation. It is escape. It is release. It is light. It is love. The heart takes itself out of the darkness. It is out for sun and summer.

This summer, for me, is also transition. I am between things. I am packing, one foot still planted here in Colorado. I am moving, one foot flying towards New Mexico. I am saying goodbye, preparing for hello, and all the while my heart is open and wild and unruly.

Here in Colorado, I have had six weeks of my in-between state. I am wrapping up projects at my old job. I am writing bits and pieces, finding it difficult to focus. I am working sporadic shifts, temporarily, at a hotel, helping an overwhelmed staff. I am visiting friends and saying goodbye. Slowly and surely, I gather my belongings and put things in boxes. All the while, I do not know what to do with my searching, fast-beating heart.

In early July, I load my phone with a couple of new apps, linked to familiar dating sites. I am not new to the phenomenon of using online sites to meet people for dating purposes. This time I do it, thinking I will use the sites when I finally get settled in Albuquerque at the end of the summer. I am impatient, though, and try out a new-to-me site with its simple six pictures, short profile, and the option to “swipe” left for no or right for yes. I swipe left and right at prospective dates as if it is a game.

My phone pings with messages from the yeses that matched their own yeses to me. A few messages are exchanged and I feel exhausted. Another message catches my eye. It is different, somehow. The picture shows a man with kind eyes. I respond. We send short messages, quick questions, fast answers. We text and send funny jokes. In an hour we make plans to meet for a drink on a Wednesday. It will be the day after my birthday.

We meet. We talk about everything and nothing. He reminds me of boys I liked in high school and college. He is enthusiastic and there is no cool demeanor. We have things in common. The drink stretches out. My heart beats with the thrill of summer. In my first message to him, I tell him I am moving and am not looking to date in my final days in Colorado. During drinks, he says he understands, but he wants to date me while he can.

We see each other again. I meet his dog. There is friendship and, dare I say it? There is summer romance. It is simple and sweet and will be short. He makes guacamole and brags of his barbecuing skills. He plays bartender; he is from Wisconsin, after all. We trade Wisconsin stories. I tell about New Mexico. We both love music. We listen to records. We hold hands. We go bowling. We play with his dog.

We are efficient with our currency of limited time and fast-moving summer days. He has friends visit from out-of-town. I have a move to coordinate. We talk on the phone. We trade more text messages. I make plans to say goodbye to family and friends. We talk about camp fires and road trips. He tells me about a canoeing adventure with his sister. He plans a new home-brew batch with his roommate. I talk about star constellations and my love of teaching. He talks of settling in at his new job and loving Colorado, just six months after his move from the midwest. During the day, while he is working and I am packing boxes, we send each other suggestions for new music to listen to, funny pictures to peruse, and links to articles to read.

We are free and light. It is a summer romance, flirty and fun. We do not evaluate each other for long-term compatibility. We are not caught up in sadness or missed opportunity. I have no expectations and I set myself free. I have no attachment. I like him, but I also like the freedom of goodbye. We connect in the here and now. We are patient and kind to each other. Somehow, it is mutual. We care for each other’s hearts, for the short time that we will share them. We talk mostly of now. We do not talk much of the past. We do not make plans for the future.

Sometimes, we are destined to help nurse someone’s heart back to the living. Sometimes, we are the practice routine for a serious romance to follow. Sometimes, we are full of summer and light. Sometimes, we are the one to meet after a long one-sided crush. Sometimes, we are there to remind each other that there are many suitable people left in the world. Sometimes, we connect because we can. Sometimes, it is about who we are and who we have been and who we help each other become. Sometimes, it is about Wisconsin stories and guacamole and a dog. Sometimes, it is about music and stars and dreams. Sometimes, it is about a short friendship and a little romance. Sometimes, it is about the heart of summer.

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