Pearl Jam and the Passing of Time

I went and saw Pearl Jam at Alpine Valley the other weekend as a part of their 20th anniversary weekend tour extravaganza event. I’ve always liked Pearl Jam and so I was excited that their only set of US shows was a half an hour away from my house. Of course, since the shows were the first weekend of September, the weather decided to stop cooperating and it returned to its previous state of awfulness; rainy and cold. That didn’t stop my friend and I from tailgating, it just caused us to tailgate out of the trunk of the car.

There are 2 errors on this sweatshirt.

It was there in the parking lot of Alpine Valley while munching on gluten-free pasta and sipping on white wine that it occurred to me: I’ve actually liked something, the same thing, continually, for 20 years. I can’t believe I’ve actually liked something for that amount of time. Not only have I liked the same band for 20 years, but I actually still like the same kind of music as I did when I was 8. I certainly don’t like the same clothes or TV shows that I did at age 8, but music tastes are pretty similar (gave or take a few bands).

Then I thought to myself, I can’t believe Pearl Jam’s been around for 20 years. Where did all of that time go? I mean, I still think of Pearl Jam as that cool band who like wore flannel and sang rockin’ tunes that I could like relate to and were sometimes like political. How has it been 20 years already? Twenty years? I guess the ’90s weren’t just a few years ago and I’m really not  a “recent college grad” anymore. It crazy because sometimes I still feel like that girl clad in overalls and a flannel shirt listening to Pearl Jam on the radio hoping that I won’t fall asleep in the middle of my homework with all the lights on. I don’t feel so far from those days.

Tailgate food.

On the other hand, we were sitting in the parking lot sipping white wine and eating a variety cured meats from an Italian specialty shop and salads prepared from the leftover of a shared farm basket. That’s a far cry from my college days when I probably would have taken food from the dining hall for the tailgate and warm cans of beer that didn’t fit in the tiny dorm refrigerator. Though I mostly feel as youthful as I always have, it’s nice to be able to bring cured meats to the table instead of having to scrap together enough laundry coins to buy a six-pack.

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August is the Sunday Night of Summer

It has been a great summer. I have had the good fortune to attend many concerts, baseball games, and take several trips.  For the most part, the weather has been agreeable (aside from the extreme humidity and the flash floods) and I have been able to enjoy some quality time basking in the sun and dipping in various lakes. 

As we approach the middle of August, I cannot help but get that sinking feeling that I get on Sunday evenings after a great weekend as I mentally prepare to face another work week.  Even though I am not a student and do not work in a school, I still feel like the days of summer are numbered.  The college kids are already returning to their campuses and school-aged children are dragging their parents to Target to get the school supplies off the list and perhaps a  Optimus Prime lunch box.  Sometimes I wish I, too, could partake in back-to-school shopping as I love the smell of fresh notebooks and pencils.  However, I am no longer in need of such an abundance of office supplies at one time.

Of course, when I mention to people the fact that I feel summer coming to a close, I am met with confused looks and choruses of, “You’re crazy! Stop being so negative!” It’s not that I am negative, it is just that I start to feel the passing of summer as I complete the major milestones of summer.  For me, the major milestones of summer are my early June birthday, Milwaukee’s Summerfest (which spans the last week in June and first week of July), the Fourth of July, the annual family vacation to New Hampshire in early August, and attending the final concert of the summer season at Alpine Valley Music Theater in East Troy, WI.  I guess there is still Labor Day, but its passing marks the official end summer (in my mind at least).

Summer’s end can feel so tragic because  it is more than just the end of a season; it is the end to a carefree way of living.  Everything feels more laid back  in the summer and because of that, I take life less seriously during this time of year.  In summer, I am more likely to take a weekend trip on a whim, more likely to have that extra beer in the 7th inning of a Brewers game, and more likely to go to a concert on a Tuesday night when I have to work early the next morning.   My justification for doing such things is always, “It’s summer! Who cares?!”  However, that justification is not so effective when the weather begins to cool and the first leaves begin to fall.  It seems nonsensical to stay out late on a work night in November, the way I might in June or July.  There is no eleven day music festival in January that I can use as an excuse to blow off going to the gym and getting enough sleep.

Just because the warmth of summer will eventually end, does not mean the carefree living of summer has to end.  The key is keeping the summer spirit alive in the coldest, darkest moments of December, January, and February.  I can still take risks and be laid back; I simply have to wear a few extra layers and remember to my hat and gloves.  Maybe even secure a pair of snowshoes.