Memorial weekend was a scorcher. Ninety-degree heat and wall-to-wall sunshine. We made our first trip to the beach, rode our bikes around our local lake in the evening sunshine, made s'mores on an open fire with friends and... got eaten alive by mosquitoes!
As with all things that seem perfect, there's often something that you didn't bargain for - in the words of Alanis Morissette: it's like rain on your wedding day. In our case it was more like being bitten on the ass when you ride around the lake - not ironic, just itchy - and a small price to pay for glorious moments of fun and relaxation.
Memorial Day is an official American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season. (Source: www.history.com)
The beginning of summer in Chicago brings the promise of fun, festivals and family time and the payoff for that long winter during which all we could really do was hunker down and hibernate. It's what we'd been waiting for and we couldn't wait to bask in the glorious weather. It's easy to feel that all is right with the world when it's made up of long sunny days, cocktails and beaches and we were more than ready for the holiday weekend and the official start of summer. Not only that, but we've had our fair share of washed-out English bank holidays due to the fickle nature of the Great British summer weather - no more wellies, coats and umbrellas for us!
To get the full Memorial Day experience, we planned to cycle to downtown Glenview to see the parade. So, after dropping Son#2 at his new job as a golf caddy, we cycled to our first stop for breakfast. But, just like rain on your wedding day, circumstances beyond our control then took over. To cut a long story (involving a Facetime call from a very stressed Son#1 and a cancelled shift for Son #2) short, we got to Glenview just in time to see everyone walking away from the parade route. We'd missed it!
Once we'd got the day back on track, a lake-front walk gave Pete and I the chance to reflect on how far we've come over the last five months, but also to grapple with the ongoing difficulties. Not least the distance between us and our family and our continued struggle to identify exactly what and where 'home' is - especially for Son#1 whose life is currently spread across four different locations. It's fair to say, we weren't really feeling in the parade mood, despite the glorious weather.
Up until now, I've been able to be both rational and logical about the geographical distance between us and our nearest and dearest, but when Son#1 called us in the middle of pre-exam stress, it became painfully clear that geography matters. There's a huge difference between being a couple of hours drive away and a whole day's travel. Try as I might, I couldn't be rational and logical about this one - I was too far away to help in any real way, and that really rained on our parade.
In situations like this, what you need is a crystal ball so that you can see into the future and know that everything will work out OK in the end. But with no crystal ball, you have to let the big picture reveal itself one pixel at a time. Right now, things are uncertain and that can be exhilarating and exciting but also unsettling and nerve-wracking. There are days when you feel the thrill of the adventure but others when the ground beneath your feet feels dangerously unstable.
So it's fair to say that the official start of summer was a bit of a mixed bag, but we came to the conclusion that we have so much to be grateful for. Whilst America paused to give thanks and remember their service men and women and their sacrifice, it gave us the perspective we needed. Son#1 was stressed and missing his family, we were worried and feeling guilty, but ultimately, we were all safe and loved. In just a few days, we'll all be together again for the summer - we have so much to look forward to and give thanks for - and nothing can rain on that parade.