One Summer Afternoon

There’s nothing more beautiful than seeing a young couple enjoying themselves on a hot summer day.

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There’s nothing more beautiful than seeing a young couple enjoying themselves on a hot summer day.  The woman, in her shorts and t-shirt, her socks and sneakers, her hair in a ponytail, her eyes holding laughter.  The man, in his shorts and t-shirt, his socks and sneakers, his hairy legs exposed, his hand in hers.  Laughing, teasing, cajoling, playing.

He throws her a frisbee.  She drops it.  He laughs at her.  She gives him a look, then tries to launch the frisbee over his head.  It flies in a different direction, almost hitting some college women lying on a beach towel.  Her expression turns to shock.  Her hands go up to her mouth.  The man chases after the frisbee, yelling a “sorry” to the college women.  He picks it up and throws it gently to his girlfriend.  She catches it lightly in her outstretched hands.

Such scenes carry with it a tinge of sadness for me.  I am not so old, but old enough to remember when I was younger.  As young as these two.  To have a beautiful girl on my arm.  To flirt.  To tease.  To not have adult things to worry about–like how to earn enough money to live–but just superfluous things to worry about, like how to earn enough money to have fun.  A carefree life, but one that doesn’t feel that way when you’re living it.  As a teenager, as a college student, everything feels so damn important.  I wonder, even now, if I will look back at this moment….and wonder what it was I was worrying about so much.

I am single now.  Single and alone.  I didn’t feel alone before, but seeing this scene play out in front of my eyes, of innocence never again achieved, of youth never again experienced, I grow sad, and lonely.  For I remember many girls I loved, who loved others; and some who loved me, when I loved others.

But, out of all of them, there’s always that one girl.  That one girl that I wished I had dated.  That one girl who, had she said “yes,” might have altered my life forever.  Hyperbole, maybe.  But certainly, my life would be different now.  How, I’m not sure.  Would I be with her still?  Would we have broken up, and my life been more bitter because of it?  Or would going out with her have given me the confidence to pursue other women afterwards, so that I would not still be a bachelor, lucky to have received a kiss from a woman, but not lucky enough to have received more?

They’re both laughing now, almost in hysterics.  The man keeps throwing the frisbee over the woman’s head.  She keeps trying to throw it past him.  Sometimes he dives and catches it.  Sometimes he just dives.  She laughs no matter which scenario plays out.  He laughs whether he catches the frisbee or not.

The sadness in my heart grows, mixed with love.  Remembered love.  Not love for a specific person, but love for all the women I have loved.   It always feels the same.    As if someone has drilled a hole into my heart and filled it with beauty and joy and life, but when she leaves, only the hole remains.  The intensity of the hurt, the longing, the joy, differs from person to person, but the hole always remains.

The young couple have stopped their game.  They leave, hand-in-hand: the young man throwing the frisbee up in the air and catching it with his left hand, the young woman swinging the arm that is attached to his right hand.  I watch them go.  A moment later, I get up to leave.  I don’t feel well.  The sickness of my memories overwhelms me.  My head is tired.  I feel tired.  And old.  And out of hope.

Author: Greg Salvatore

Writer. Voice Actor. Humanist. Feminist.

14 thoughts on “One Summer Afternoon”

  1. “The important thing is to overcome the sorrow that accompanies any type of separation, such as death or divorce. The vital thing is to continue advancing. Do not look back. Just forge on. There are many reasons why people bid farewell to one another. People have their own thoughts and situations. The deep scars within your heart may not heal quickly. Yet brace yourself so you can look forward. You should strive to move on, cutting through the clouds in your heart. As long as you advance, new hope will be born. The sun will rise. Only when you continue to advance can you encounter an even better, more wonderful you.”..Daisaku Ikeda
    http://www.daisakuikeda.org/

    At any rate, pain is the mother of literature, more than “happily ever after”. I’m about to view Last Station, about the final period of Tolstoi, notoriously unhappy in his amorous sphere. As the Bard says, “our lives are of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.”

    Cheers and fine piece of writing.

    LD: Thanks.
    Daisaku Ikeda is certainly a wise man. Which book of his would you recommend that I start with? He sounds like an inspirational read.

  2. Computers fault. Buzz is me.
    LD: I know. 🙂 Feel free to add the url address for your blog, too, so people can read your fantastic movie reviews. Readers, click here to read S M’s blog.

  3. Thanks for our enouraging comment on my poem.

    LD: You’re very welcome. You’re also quite the drawer. Readers, please check out AT’s blog by clicking on her name above.

  4. LD:
    This is beautiful. No exaggeration, I promise. Probably the best bit of writing I’ve ever read from you.

    And how are you enjoying Leaves of Grass? Whitman is one of the few poets from his era I haven’t read even one poem of.

    SM:
    I’m looking forward to your answer too. I’ve been reading quite a few of Ikeda’s essays after you directed me to his site, and they are indeed very good.

    LD: Wow, thanks Ronak. I do tend to know when I’ve written something that’s good, but I never know how good, which is why I always enjoy reading comments. Sometimes they foster a new appreciation in me for what I’ve written. 🙂

    You should read Whitman. He is as American as Mark Twain. Start with the 1855 version of Leaves of Grass. He never improved upon those poems in subsequent versions. I hope to track down the 1860 version, too, since that includes poems that aren’t included in the 1855 version, and which are better than their subsequent versions.

  5. This is very well written. By the end, I was felt sad and I was feeling {your} pain. {Oddly, it’s a good thing.}
    Sometimes I wonder which is worse, having memories to look back on or not having any…

    LD: Not having any. As a friend of mine wrote in my high school yearbook, “All that we have are memories.”

    1. I think I would agree with that! Though sometimes I wish I had no memories when particular mortifying memories seems to haunt me. But all in all, I think the good outweighs the bad. 🙂

  6. I love the last few lines. They really bring out the narrator, whereas the rest of it is focused on what the narrator is watching.

    Please do some more shorts before your novel comes out!!!!

    LD: Will do. 😀

  7. A warm observation, I like that.

    I have watched young couples like them several times, but my feeling was the cold curiosity rather than the wistfulness. They were in the place I’ve never been to and have never thought about going into.

    LD: Oh, that happens, too. It depends on whether they overdue it or not.
    But everyone who has commented so far does realize that this is a work of fiction, right? 😉

  8. Fiction? Never even thought of it. It seemed to be about you (not because it was so well written, I understand people write great fiction too). Something about it seemed to be you-like.

    And may I protest against the new theme? It draws attention away from the writing. Besides, the notebook seemed to, in some curious way, complement your writing like your blogger blog never did.

    LD: Maybe because there was less to distract the reader from the words. A good point. What does everyone else think?

    P.S. I’ve changed the design yet again. I think this one is less distracting than the last one, but a little more aesthetically pleasing than what I had originally.

  9. One last thing: the new look of your blog is stunning. An improvement over its previous appearance. Captures somewhat the look of one of your previous blogger formats, but does it better.

    LD: Yeah, I think this one’s a keeper. 🙂

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