As another summer comes to an end, my mind reaches back to a wonderful end of summer when we were still living in San Diego, California…
My haunches rested on cold asphalt, my son slept on a vintage wool blanket, another atop him. It must have be past midnight. My daughter, husband and friends were down by the water’s edge, searching for the lost key. It was strange that my husband had lost it, he never lost anything. If this was a novel, I wondered what it would foreshadow? The last glow of summer ebbed from my bones, the official end of long days and warm nights; this was how we once beat the blues.
We arrived at our usual Lindy by the Bay spot, (a once-a-month beach-side dance venue) no swing tonight though. My husband and I were clad in our best beach vintage attire, I in my midriff tie-top and skirt with Pendleton for later, David in a wonderful 40s 50s Barkcloth Tiki Shirt. My daughter and son matched me in home-sewn outfits.
They sped ahead as I made my laden way to the fire pit. I was greeted by new and familiar faces. Children spread across the beach like lost pearls, my kids among them, fostering friendships which seemed more worn than a single summer’s eve. I was introduced to Sarah’s cousins and acquaintances. She was vintage fabulous in her Freddies and cherry print blouse. Our friend, Brian lazed under his big straw hat like a quintessential Mexican Caballero sans a saguaro cactus.
The sun sat low, purple and pink clouds kissed the water. A fish jumped and the children squealed as a black duck and snowy egret put on a dinner show. Another of our group, Mikey came breezing in, grinning his dimpled smile and harassing my husband for not having set up the horseshoes. Mikey’s 1950s crew-cut hair and gray gab shirt, sleeves rolled made him look like the perfect retro-man specimen. He came to play. David busied himself pouring yummy, dark, fragrant beers. It had been a long day and we were eager for alcohol and beach to rub the edges off our muscles and mind.
Metal horseshoes clinked between the clatter of men. Latecomers and swing buddies, Spencer and Ali, breezed in bringing a much needed folding table. Ali glowed in her gingham Rockabilly half-shirt, flat tummy and tight jeans. She was at an age where youth sheds its innocence for the deeper beauty of full bloom. All I could do was watch and remember when I felt the way she looked. We organized the food into an artist’s palette of delectable delights.
Spencer practiced air-steps deftly flipping Ali, sand dusting the sea air. My husband and I shuffled lindy through six and eight count rhythms. Dean and Susan, in vintage beach fashion, sandily shredded the shore with Balboa Swing. How do you beat the end of summer blues? With dance and laughter of course.
I shifted the blanket over my sleeping babe and breathed in the last smells of summer. My memory dimmed and narrowed struggling to remember conversations about dancing, gardening, music, movies and sewing. Both Sarah and Susan loved vintage patterns like me. We dissected the merits and difficulties of working with antique ephemera.
Individuals rotated around the fire like clock hands. Periphery people peeled back and disappeared into the night, a rocket freeing itself from earth’s gravity. We cosmonauts held steady for the finale explosion. An entire pallet was thrown onto the fire. My daughter said it looked like a waterfall, a fire-fall; we each sunk into a private solace.
Flamed licked round the wood, an unseen force pulling them under and around, fascinating and hot, really hot. Our sandy chairs immediately raked back as the fire brightly illuminated everyone’s features, a joyful sight. The light show faded, we inched forward filching the last bits of warmth, of friends, of summer.
As if a bell sounded, we jumped up, folded chairs, packed food, and dumped ice, all done like a rehearsed dance. We shook the sand from bodies, blankets, tables and chairs. Our beach paraphernalia scooped and ferried to silent cars. I sat with sleeping son in wait of the searchers return.
My daughter bounded upon my thoughts, “He found it, he found it.”
The key to summer was put away for another year.
Do you have a special summer memory or a way to beat the blues? Ever been dancing outside, what did you like or not like about it? For more personal stories like this one, check out: Casbah, Swinging Blind, Party, Confessions
Tam Francis is writer, blogger, swing dance teacher, avid vintage collector, and seamstress. She shares her love of this genre through her novels, blog, and short stories. She enjoys hearing from you, sharing ideas, forging friendships, and exchanging guest blogs. For all the Girl in the Jitterbug Dress news, give-aways, events, and excitement, make sure to join her list and like her FB page! Join my list ~ Facebook page