The crickets are getting louder and louder. I’ve been aware of the crickets, the way they sound the death knell for summer, for as long as I can remember. Actually – no. That would imply that I don’t remember exactly when I noticed the sound of crickets, and what that sound signified. I remember exactly when I became aware of it. I was seventeen years old.
I wrote about this just about a year ago, on Five By Five Hundred:
There is something mournful about August. First – there are the crickets. That endless whirring and chirping at night; the cacophonous dirge signifying the end of summer. August is death disguised as sultriness. August is night after night with the people you want to be your friends forever. They pick you up at the mall where you’re working. In July, the car was full. Friends on friends’ laps and too many friends by far to be in that one car. By August, there are three friends, then two. One by one they leave you, embarking on their new adventures. By the end of August it’s you in your room with your bed-in-a-bag and your purple steamer trunk and your hot pot that you’re probably not supposed to have, and you know no one.
In essence, crickets at night bring me back to the summer before I went off to college. I knew, somehow, that I wouldn’t see many of my friends from high school again, despite our vows of eternal camaraderie. And as August lumbered in, dazed with heat and dizzy with mosquitoes, I started saying goodbye to them, one by one. First, Glenn went to Bentley. Then Matt went to Tufts. Chrissy went to Villanova. Ethan went to Penn. And I was going off to a tiny little liberal arts college in Florida. Florida! This was hilarious to my friends, given my absolute fear of sunlight. We sat on the sea wall, or in Glenn’s backyard, night after night and joked about this, about the stuff our parents insisted on buying for our as-yet-unseen dorm rooms, and we tried not to think too hard about the future. At least I didn’t. The whole prospect was terrifying.
That was 24 years ago. Thanks to “social networking,” I at least have some idea of where most of my old friends are. And I regularly see many of those kids that sat on the sea wall with me, or in Glenn’s backyard. I go to Chrissy’s house every Boxing Day. Coombsie and I have dinner dates with Ethan and his wife. But I had no idea back then that this would be the case. I wouldn’t have an email account for another 5 years. Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t even in kindergarten. All I knew was the feeling of loss, a fear of the unknown, and the sound of crickets.