It’s the eve of August 31st, 2010. It’s technically the beginning of the end of the dog days of summer. The end of the week marks Labor Day and the beginning of a fall cycle – back to school, back from vacation, back to work, back to back responsibilities.
In the days when I taught drama in high school, I loved this time of year. I loved going back to a crop of new students, mostly dysfunctional, pop smoking, LDS taking strangers living in the alternative universe of Las Vegas. It was Clark High School, Las Vegas, Nevada, an outpost of mostly dispossessed kids, with one parent, maybe two but they worked shifts on the Strip – some graveyard, some early morning, some split shifts. But they loved coming into my class because they knew I truly thought they were special. Our dog days were times of experimenting with improvisation and reading and acting in the new and exciting scripts from Off Broadway’s golden years in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The weather didn’t quit snap into fall mode because it was still hot as hell in Vegas until October. Yet, we sweat through that first month getting to know each other and allowing the senior thespians show the way to the newbies, the wanna-bes who took drama/theater to find a refuge against their adolescent angst.
Dog Days were days of optimism and hope in my life and they still are. Now my grandsons go back to school and I still get a thrill of hearing about their teachers and books and friends.
I love the fall weather. It’s my favorite time of year. Los Angeles can provide that fall weather snap, cooler nights and less warm days in the shade. Sometimes there is a bout of heat around Labor Day, but I can still smell football season and see the band practice outside my yoga room at the John Wooden Center on the UCLA campus and sometimes catch a glimpse of the football team warming up on the field as I walk to my car.
As the feeling of renewal comes over me, I am cognizant of old memories from grammar school and high school when I was part of campus excitement and new classes and old friends returning to our familiar posts.
I’m feeing nostalgic for my parents, particularly my father because he drove me to St. Raphael’s grammar school for so many years. I was so very happy growing up, and I loved sitting next to my dad in the car as we listened to Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club on the radio. We would sit in the car and watch the Dominican nuns get out their taxis on the side of the school while my dad and I continued to listen to the radio. I wouldn’t get out of the car until the nuns entered the building.
Every end of August and beginning of September memories come back with a vengeance and take me back deep into my past – a past that gave me my values, my sense of direction, my loyalties, and my sense of self.