An Invincible Summer

My brother and I were at the school bus stop by quarter to seven on Monday, Aug. 29, 1977.

It was the first day of my senior year, and Brian’s high school debut. On all accounts it was hot, sunny and clear—a perfect summer’s day. Two days before I’d met Karen at the Paradise Ballroom, kicking up our heels to Skeeze’s band Tank, and hanging with Pete and Laurie. Now the girls were back into their routines at Delano High School and Pete was a newly graduated senior, out in the big, wide world.

Back at school, Steve was the first person I ran into. We made the rounds until homeroom, eyeing the sophomores for new faces and running into Kim and Michelle, who were apparently on the defensive. The next day I noted in the diary: “Michelle is really scared of me or something,” further stating, “I think I understand.”

Then there was Kristi and Lynn, with whom I’d fallen into friendship status. It’s funny, but high school from this distance seems way less about education and more about lessons in socialization. Since we’d all been apart over the summer, a kind of negotiation was needed to wade back into some relationships. I’d spent more time with Pete and Steve; I’d since fallen out with Skeeze.

The diary seems to show I was nonchalant—even wry—about the whole situation. While chatting with Connie, Cindy and Michelle over lunch, I noticed Michelle had turned her back to me. “It looked very obvious,” the diary reports. “She’s going about it wrong, someone should tell her.”

Pete and I were planning for another big double date with Laurie and Karen on Friday. We were going to take them to the Delano football game, then catch Star Wars at the Waconia theater. I could barely contain my excitement, which probably accounted for the extra boost of nonchalance in local matters.

Friday, Sept. 2 whisked by at the high school. Courses that day included Speech with Gulbranson (“Mr. G.”), Mr. Lage’s Photography class, Government with Mr. Gimmestad (so I had “Gimmerment,” as we called it), Advanced Composition with Mr. McHale and German with Mrs. Ferguson. Chad Moore and I gnawed on ice cream sandwiches for lunch.

Pete whipped by my house after 5 for our big night in Delano. We first picked up his girlfriend Laurie at Rumpsa’s house, then drove over to Karen’s, where we chatted with her mom in the family kitchen. Delano was playing Waconia that night, so it worked out perfectly to catch the game and take in the movie. Karen hadn’t seen Star Wars. The diary reports she loved it.

The movie let us out before 10, so we were planning to get something to eat. Pete drove us back to Mound, with Karen and I getting close in the backseat.  At one point he parked on Sunnyfield Road and the evening’s make-out hour began in earnest. Laurie and Karen were back in Delano before midnight.

The next day, Saturday, I received another letter from Lisa Tepley, the one in which she admitted breaking up with her boyfriend Craig. Mom and Dad went to the Minnesota State Fair by themselves; I mowed the lawn and shuttled Brian back and forth from the Navarre bowling alley. That afternoon I called Lisa and we made plans to get together at 6:30, meeting at the Crystal Burger King and talking over Cokes about breakups with boyfriends and making out with new girlfriends.

The thing is, Lisa and I shared an understanding of a personal, internal summer state of mind. Nearly a year later, in Aug. 1978, she followed up on a letter I’d sent her about my last year at Camp Shamineau. “I have to talk to you,” she wrote. “Did you bring me back any of the magic?”

Then she wrapped up with a quote: “In the midst of winter I finally learned that inside of me there is an invincible summer.”

~ by completelyinthedark on June 10, 2012.

3 Responses to “An Invincible Summer”

  1. Love this……

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Completely in the Dark and commented:

    Happy Labor Day weekend 2013, friends. A blast from exactly 36 years ago today! All new post up after the holiday, next Friday morning. Best, Mike


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