In the Suburbs: A summer season of rewarding pursuits
Published 8:10 am, Sunday, September 6, 2015
Coming back to school last week to begin my third year as a teaching assistant at Bridge Academy in Bridgeport was really tough after my wonderful and relaxing summer. Now, with two weeks of school under our belts, summer is just a memory and it’s finally Labor Day weekend.
What made the summer so great this year was my decision not to seek another job besides the bookstore in Fairfield and hope that I’d get enough hours along with my two outside clients to squeak through the long, hot summer. I’m getting too old to work three jobs. I turned 71 in August, but I have no intention of slowing down.
Another thing that made this summer so nice was being able to spend so much time with my wife. Unlike last summer, which was our very emotional move, this summer we could actually plan some great and leisurely quilt outings, see “La Cage Aux Faux” at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam for my birthday and spend our 49th anniversary weekend on a whirlwind eating marathon.
Last summer I felt like we drowned in a sea of endless boxes, trying to organize our downsized rental home. We were both emotionally and physically drained after the move and still haven’t finished some unpacking.
This summer, on the other hand, in addition to trying for my Connecticut teacher certification, I did a lot of publicity work for one client who is forming his own publishing company and distributing his three books in paperback, online and as e-books this November. I spent a lot of time on the phone and e-mail, contacting authors or their publicists, journalists and financial experts to ask if they would consider writing a blurb for his third book.
Another fun experience this summer was the reading marathon we held at the bookstore to celebrate Harper Lee’s new novel, “Go Set a Watchman.” I convinced several colleagues to read aloud and I read as well. My author client participated also and I even got him a little television exposure so that made the day even more worthwhile.
My wife and I started walking again with our three dogs (we finally had to put our beloved Queenie down in early July) and we’ve tried to do that as much as possible. Since her mild heart attack last summer, my wife just hasn’t had the energy for regular walks, but her stamina is coming back.
Our walks are short, but it’s great to walk even for a little while and the dogs love it. Last Saturday, the final cool day before this heat returned, we drove to St. Mary’s by the Sea for a walk. We took Truffie, the wonderful little Boykin Spaniel we inherited from our dear friend Hazel, who died a year ago of cancer. The walk ended with a delicious breakfast at one of our favorite Black Rock haunts — Harborview Market. Truffie joined us.
Truffie is a wonderful networker and was absolutely in his element for the whole walk, greeting and sniffing every dog we encountered. Hazel would have been so pleased to see how great her little chocolate-colored spaniel is doing. There isn’t a day that goes by without our thinking about her.
I tried to spend a lot of time this summer with my friend Elliott, who had a stroke two summers ago and still is having some difficulty walking. It’s tough to watch a man, nearly 20 years younger than I am, struggling. I’m just thankful that I’ve been around so we can grab breakfast at our favorite diner, Sherwood in Westport, and I can help Elliott with errands, doctor appointments.
The summer of 2015 was also a time to reconnect with old friends and former colleagues. My friend Beth, for instance, who handles the recreational side at Atria in Darien, was kind enough to bring my wife in to talk about her work with the Army National Guard in Groton as an embedded social work clinician. It was a great morning.
I spent a sizzling day in Manhattan with my friend Peter and his lovely little daughter Mavis. That visit included a short stop at my former boss Alex’s office.
And I managed a few breakfasts and lunches with other friends and colleagues.
As this last weekend of a very warm and humid summer unfolds, I will look forward to cooler days and the Jewish High Holy Days on Sept. 14. But I’ll also savor this wonderful summer. I honestly did relax.
Steven Gaynes’ "In the Suburbs" column appears each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.