While my kids are still in school until next week, summer has hit elsewhere, and already the updates from friends on Facebook include descriptions of trips to Paris and Italy and Mexico. Note the word include but don't think I'm feeling resentful or anything. I have other friends who will spend their summers working or freaking out that summer school hours have been cut once again by the school system. Still others are spending weeks in the PICU at nearby hospitals, whiling away the hours playing Words with Friends while their children are hooked up to respirators and waiting for induced comas to end and seizures, hopefully, to stop.
We won't be doing much this summer other than the usual harrowing trip to Hilton Head Island in July (more on that later) and various day camps for my strapping boys. Since Sophie's seizure activity has stepped up of late, I'm resigned to do a series of doctor visits with her, holding my breath. We'll do a lot of hanging out in our pajamas which is actually one of the best parts of summer. We'll work on a list of stuff we'd like to do and post about that later, but given the amount of fabulousness I'm witnessing in other's lives, I think it's time to pull out the Billy Collins and let him speak for me, once again.
How agreeable it is not to be touring Italy this summer,
wandering her cities and ascending her torrid hilltowns.
How much better to cruise these local, familiar streets,
fully grasping the meaning of every roadsign and billboard
and all the sudden hand gestures of my compatriots.
There are no abbeys here, no crumbling frescoes or famous
domes and there is no need to memorize a succession
of kings or tour the dripping corners of a dungeon.
No need to stand around a sarcophagus, see Napoleon's
little bed on Elba, or view the bones of a saint under glass.
How much better to command the simple precinct of home
than be dwarfed by pillar, arch and basilica.
Why hide my head in phrase books and wrinkled maps?
Why feed scenery into a hungry, one-eyes camera
eager to eat the world one monument at a time?
Instead of slouching in a café, ignorant of the word for ice,
I will head down to the coffee shop and the waitress
known as Dot. I will slide into the flow of the morning
paper, all language barriers down,
rivers of idiom running freely, eggs over easy on the way.
And after breakfast, I will not have to find someone
willing to photograph me with my arm around the owner.
I will not puzzle over the bill or record in my journal
what I had to eat and how the sun came in the window.
It is enough to climb back into the car
as if it were the great car of English itself
and sounding my loud vernacular horn, speed off
down a road that will never lead to Rome, not even Bologna.