Let us say that Summer began on the first of May. That was the date this year when it turned hot. Two days earlier the low temperature had been forty-five degrees; on May first the high was ninety-two degrees.
May first was also my graduation day. My mother, my father, and all my living grandparents came to Gainesville and stood outside the O’Connell Center in the blazing sun for what seemed like an eternity waiting for the previous commencement ceremony to conclude. When I was at last allowed to enter the building, sweaty and thirsty, I located my fellow English majors, and stood silently in line waiting to be ushered into the arena. I didn’t know or even recognize anyone until the ceremony was under way, and even then, of the hundreds of names called that afternoon I recognized only two besides my own. I had pleasant conversation with the girl sitting next to me. She, too, was an English major, but her focus was literary theory, and mine was eighteenth- and nineteenth century British literature: our paths never crossed. I was genuinely proud and happy to be there, and I thought the ceremony itself was dignified. Miriam captured a funny picture of me looking like Sasquatch as I crossed the stage.
After it concluded I gathered my people, and we made our way in several cars to Satchel’s. I was frustrated by the experience, not because the restaurant was so crowded and the wait was so long; I expected that. Rather, I was disappointed that Satchel’s made no attempt to reduce the suffering of their waiting patrons. I knew I wanted one of the rare and desirable deep-dish pizzas–I had even reserved one ahead of time–but they wouldn’t start preparing it until we were seated, even though doing so would have freed a table forty minutes earlier for other patrons. The lack of any real climate controlled waiting area was hard on my older relatives. But the food was delicious, and everyone loved it. Plus, Miriam brought a cake.
That day also marked the first time my mother and grandmother ever saw where I live. I am sure they loved our home. Miriam and I set our air conditioning down to seventy-six degrees to make sure everyone was comfortable, and it felt so comfortable that we decided then and there that we’d keep it that way all summer long. I dubbed this “Summer of Seventy-Six”.
That’s how summer began. Just last week I received my diploma in the mail, so it’s official. And now summer is ending.