Hey, gang! Welcome to EP 09 of my podcast, “Something That I Wrote.”
I’d like to offer a warm welcome to you, and I’d like to offer a warm welcome to summertime, too. I know that here in Niagara summer has not officially started yet, but it’s close enough for me. I’ve officially started summertime, in spirit, if not on my calendar. For better and for worse, it’s summertime in my heart.
I like this time of year. I like that I can wander round these streets, late at night, swapping smokes and stories with my sweetheart and my pals, searching for abandoned houses and mischief and ghosts. On summer nights round here, there’s a special kinda stillness. It feels like you’re walking through a movie set, and if some guy stays up well past midnight, on a Monday, playing a lonesome song on piano for a long-lost love named Daisy, you can stand under a thin pale ray of moonlight and hear him all the way down the block.
But in some ways I hate this time of year, too. It’s hard to stay focused when there’s so many shenanigans to get up to. The grass is too green and the sky is too blue and it’s hard to do anything at all but lay out in a park, picking dandelions and playing folk songs on guitar. Sometimes, if you strum long enough (and share enough smokes with the right kinda pal), you might come up with a half-decent line, like “Take my umbrella, I’ll walk in the rain/Just hold my hand tightly, and I’ll be okay.” And when you get home you might write that line down in a journal with pictures of Paris on its cover, and you might make a promise to yourself and to your sweetheart that you’ll finish the song, for her sake as much as your own, and because she’s so special you actually do. But mostly it’s hard to do anything at all but sit around and wish you were doing more than what you’re doing. It’s hard. It’s summertime.
And yet, amidst all the frantic and chaotic indulgences, there is work that has to be done. I want to live like Archie Andrews, forever and for always, but I can’t. This ain’t Riverdale – it’s Niagara. Get outta the way, Betty! Don’t go whispering sweet-nuthins in my ear, Veronica! (You had your chance!) Jughead can stay, but only on weekends. I have to make sure this gets finished, and I’ve gotta make sure it gets finished right. There is work to be done. I have to write something.
But this work’s all for nothing if I don’t have people to share it with, and I suspect many of the people listening to this are having the same kinda summertime I am. I suspect that they, too, have shifted seasons psychologically. And so I think I need to shift the stories I tell. I think that this time of year, it’s too much to ask of people to come back, episode after episode, for something completely brand new. People want familiarity and ease. People want barbecued hot dogs and pool parties and campfires. People don’t wanna struggle. Especially not in the summertime.
And so, recognizing this, I had an idea. For the next two months of summer, I’m not gonna put out totally new stories with totally new characters and totally new settings and totally new themes. That’d be too many beginnings n middles n ends. Instead, I’ve decided to tell one long story, split into four parts. It’s a serialized radio show, like they used to make, in the good old days. If only I could air it in AM. It’s got an overarching story and overarching characters, and maybe an overarching moral, too, though I don’t know what it is if there is. But I hope this sustained, long-form type of tale helps ease you in, piece by piece. I hope there’s something comforting about it, and I hope it won’t distract you too much from whatever else it is you want to do, this time of year. By the time we wrap this saga up, we’ll be nearing the end of July, and we’ll go careening round that corner and straight into August, quickly. By then, I think you’ll be ready to get back into all-new stories. Fall will be nearing, far-off but visible, and you’ll be ready for new beginning n middles n ends. If you aren’t, you oughtta be. For now, though, let’s get into a soapbox car, and let’s spend two months together, cruising round this charming little town of mine. I’ve built a wonderful car, and I’d like to take you in it, for a ride. It’s a wonderful car, and I built it to suit me, and not the other way around, and so, if you let me steer the wheel, I think we can have a really lovely ride. But who knows. Teddy Thompson thought the same thing, and look how that turned out for him.