When the solstice rolled around back in June, things were pretty tough in my life. I was deep in the process of getting everything I owned out of what used to be my home while dealing with several different flavors of heartbreak. It was not a fun time.
But as challenging as things were right then, I had the good sense to look ahead into the next few months, and I envisioned how my summer could unfold, and I realized there was literally nothing besides blocks I myself put up getting in the way of bringing that vision to reality. If I really wanted to, I could have the best summer ever.
Now let me admit: after all those years of living with depression, being happy isn't something I naturally excel at. It's pretty easy for me to be not-happy and not even realize it.
So with that in mind, I took the phrase, "Best Summer Ever," and made it into a sort of mantra. I said it to myself every time I thought of it. I wrote it on the old tennis balls I threw into my ball hopper so that whenever I practiced serving, I'd see those words. If my stalker ever trained a parabolic microphone on me during a practice session, she'd have heard me utter, "Best summer ever, baby," every time I pulled out a ball so inscribed.
And did it work?
Let's be clear: I experienced new levels of heartbreak and grief. The only one I'll give name to here was saying say goodbye to my beloved sweet Mango.
I had joyful mountain bike rides in Summit County. I camped in beautiful places with friends. I saw the Milky Way from the balcony of the condo I was staying in; from the mountains near Twin Lakes, south of Leadville, CO; from a campground in the Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming. I rode a dude's bad-ass fat bike around a park in Alamosa, CO. I had a meal in New York City that I will never forget. A massive flight of ravens wheeled overhead as I caught one of the most beautiful trout of my life. One day on the practice court, I hit the best serve I've ever hit. I drank a shot of Malort in Chicago, for fuck's sake. I kicked ass in the ass-kicking vest in Wisconsin. Roger Federer won Wimbledon and Rafael Nadal won the U.S. Open. I wrote a bunch. I drank whiskey gingers and gin tonics with dear friends. I went to bed late and slept late. I reconnected with old friends and made new ones.
I cried that morning in Wyoming when the sun disappeared behind the moon and revealed the eye of God.
The last time I was this alive, I was a college kid living in Spain. That was twenty-three years ago.
Best summer ever, baby.