August memorials and memories

This week the shadows changed. I saw it on my street this morning, walking to the F train, the very one that's made me miss two yoga classes this week. Augusts are funny -- still sticky, but there's a cool tone to the air that wasn't there before, and everything feels just a little off center. One summer in college when I worked at a jewelry store on the island I tried to explain to my dear friend, the store's owner, how easy it was to squint just the right way so that everything looked as rosy and fresh as it did in May and June. I never wanted summers to end back then, only that's not entirely true; I think I mostly just wanted to make sure I captured them.

Anyway, my friend told me there was no way August could look anything like June, because the shadows always gave it away. They've moved a few degrees, a move that can't be hidden by a squint.

I know she's right, and I see it now. The island would always clear out in August, but we'd still be there, singing to the Indigo Girls behind closed doors, watching the sand blow by, waiting for school to start. Now, even in New York, August feels still to me, frozen. It feels weirdly quiet. The interns at work have left. It's cool enough for sweaters on early mornings.

Today B. and I went to pick up our friend's CSA share while he's out of town and passed a group of people holding a makeshift memorial service on the front stoop of a brownstone. One stumbles upon many things in front of Brooklyn brownstones -- free books from people cleaning out their shelves, old toasters and printers that say "Take me! I work!" in wobbly handwriting -- like this whole borough is hosting a neverending garage sale. But I've never seen a memorial service.

They each had fold-up chairs and there was one empty one, on the top step, with a photo and "1953-2012" printed on it. It wasn't sad. Everyone there seemed joyous, and I thought, that's the way to do those things. On a stoop in August in Brooklyn, watching the world and the weather pass by.

I guess I can't trick myself out of August by squinting. It's here, and just like that, it'll be gone.