Mondays in September

~ by Robert P. Barsanti ~

By September, Monday leans back, gives himself a scratch, and looks around the backyard for a few minutes. It has all the time it needs. Nothing presses it. The phone doesn’t ring, the e-mail only contains spam, and the coffee is ready by the time the sun has passed above the pine boughs.

Monday doesn’t believe in deadlines. Friday is a long way away and it isn’t in a hurry to get it here any sooner. September isn’t in any hurry to get moving either. In the last week, the summer remains in humidity and a rising swell out of the southwest. For the first time in months, the surfers get to ride shoulder-high swells. Everyone in the line-up knows each other’s names and coffee preferences. When they leave, the waves continue to build in their rear view mirrors.

Tuesday settles in. The crowds of summer are clustered around a Starbuck’s in Hingham. Downtown, you can park next to the Bartlett’s truck and buy your tomatoes and corn with a conversation. The New York Times and Daily News remain well stocked in the Hub. Plenty of donuts are for sale at the Downyflake, plenty of croissants at the Bake Shop, plenty of everything. When the boats arrive, the day-trippers walk up Main Street. They are here for a look, for something to do before Gail picks them up for a tour. They pose by the fountain in the center of Main Street. They pick through the tshirts looking for gifts for the grandchildren. They buy some fudge. After the tour, they pick at cheeseburgers and French fries at the drug store until the boat comes back.

For us, work remains to be done. Houses need to be cleaned and turned over. Students are coming to school in that great timeless pattern of the school week. They press up against each day, racing against the clock for game days, birthdays, and weekends. And then, faster than wished. Senior Year dawns and processes through its deliberate speed of one last time. This is your last “First Day.” This is your last September. This is your last season. Soon enough, the world will start lining up more “last moments” for the Seniors. Soon, they will take their last classes. They will have their last paychecks without bills and loans. They will have their last days as single people.

Somewhere out there, the last moment of childhood comes on a Saturday with a ring in one hand and glass of champagne in the other.

Flocks of weddings come to the island with the cooler winds and larger fish. September and October have replaced May and June as the wedded months. The big white dresses and the floral arrangements that once came with the first roses and the opening of the season, now come at the close of summer as the hydrangea are at their biggest and fluffiest. The couples have made a sound decision; by September, the water is warm, the crowds are sparse, and the fogs are brief. You and your dinner partner for the next fifty years can stand atop the sixteenth tee at Sankaty, pose for your picture, and have the sunset behind you.

Weddings in the fall mean a summer of anxiety for the young couples. Like the school children, they hurry the days forward. They arrange the housing and the hosting, the menu and the music, and then they watch each invitation come back marked with that Saturday date on it. All of this expectation weighs on the unexpected. We will need a new celebrant now that my Uncle can’t come. We will need to fit four more people in for my father. We will need to hope the hurricane goes out to sea. They wish for the day to come before any more surprises get in the way, just as a running back darts for the endzone before anything or anyone can grab at his feet. Then, they are gone. The days, with gentle astronomical doom, ring in the rehearsal dinners, the wedding ceremonies, the receptions, and then ring out the ferries around Brant Point and into the long adulthood when “the last” and “never more” seem somewhere far over the horizon, beyond dinners, diapers, and diplomas. Perhaps the parents stay for another day or two. They have seen another “last time” pass before them and, at this stage in the proceedings, don’t need to hurry anything along. They have learned how to enjoy the Monday.

You need to have some years on you to enjoy Monday. It has its promises. It promises four more days, just like this one, when nothing momentous threatens or looms. You don’t hope for a Monday, but, after a time, you grow to enjoy the monotonous hope that comes from the first day. Teenagers, fiancés, and Loverboy work for the weekend. But age teaches you painful lessons. You have no need to hurry the hours or the days before you. They will come when they will come and if they take their sweet time, that is for the best. Monday begins things. Monday establishes the routine. You go to the gym, you start your diet, you begin a new job on Mondays. Within the pattern, you find hope. Within the repetition, you find identity. Who am I. I am the person who goes to the gym. I am the person who goes to work. I am the person who goes to meeting. It began on a Monday. Saturdays are for champagne, but Mondays are for coffee. Weddings happen on Saturday; marriages begin on Monday.

So it goes in September. The school year and the football season aren’t the only things that begin in this cool month. So does the winter. The quiet seasons, of wind and cloud and gray water begin now.

Old friends come out of the storm of summer and return to the table for a cup. Life continues in its astronomical pace in the autumnal quiet of a September Monday. You need to have reached a certain age to settle in for the pleasure of Monday. You can lean back into it, drink your coffee, and let the tide creep out.