The Power of August

My father died in August. My son was born in August.

My older brother and sister also were born in August. There are more birthdays in August than in any other month.

Happy birthday, August babies.

It was in August, 33 years ago, that my older brother and I took an epic trip to the West, when he moved to Southern California for the first time. The day he turned 30 is the day the West really began showing itself to us.

We had driven through the night, across Minnesota, pitched a tent somewhere in the middle of South Dakota, and woke up to endless rolling plains and a sprawling sky. I gave him a Swiss Army knife for a present. We visited the Badlands, and we made the Black Hills by night. I called my girlfriend Jane from a payphone near the foot of Mount Rushmore. It was after midnight back home in New York.

August also is when my friend Julianne Wilson engineered a life-changing project at my house, making it more accessible for my son, making it a workplace for me, making me fall in love with my community, proving that empathy, compassion and love can find you, even when you feel detached, enclosed in a self-induced shroud of fear and self-doubt.

It’s been 11 years since that project. The hot tub is gone. Jimmy Johnston — the same man who managed the project 11 years ago, and who customized my son’s special bed, and who watched the tub fly out of the back of a pickup truck onto Duncan Bridge Road (and survive intact), also managed the extraction of that tub from our house so that it could go to the Habitat for Humanity. Now it lives with another family.

August is a word that means distinguished, eminent, venerable, celebrated, hallowed, and so forth.

The profundity of August, the very atmosphere of August, can be overwhelming for me.

But I am grateful for and respectful of August, a big and hot month, sometimes glorious, sometimes terrifying. Beyond the borders of intimate experience, August is monumental. Among other things, we dropped atomic bombs on Japan and World War II ended in August, Woodstock happened in August, and Hurricane Katrina raged in August. Olympics have been held in August.

My heart has soared, and been broken, and been mended in August, numerous times.

August is huge, and I haven’t even scratched its surface here, and if it’s just the same to you, I’m going to skip through August’s dying hours and leap into September. See you there.


4 thoughts on “The Power of August

  1. My grandma’s birthday was today, my dad had an August birthday too, my daughter was born in August (her birthday is Wednesday) and so was my niece. My youngest sister was married in August 45 years ago in Hawaii while her husband was on R&R from Vietnam. Never really thought about what a busy month it is before.

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