“Dear Summer: I know you gon’ miss me.”
For the last fourteen years I have considered the morning of September eleventh the end of Summer. I was a little more than two months from turning sixteen and literally the world around me changed based on a tragedy in the backyard the Long Island suburb where I spent my high school years. As a native New Yorker, I think I see this day much different than many of my friends because we were all affected by no more than one degree of separation.
Before the World Trade Center attacks it had felt like something was in the air and change was coming. Couldn’t tell you what it was…All I knew was my football team had an uphill battle with all of our quarterbacks injured for the season and Jay Z’s Blueprint was dropping 9/11.
All of these years later I find myself on my lunch break in the apartment complex across the street from my job remembering exactly what I was doing 366 days ago. I had recently been let go of my job, the inevitable breakup with someone I loved had just happened, and because of the latter, I lost my best friend. I was sitting on a bench in this same apartment complex penning my ex a letter that essentially was me letting go. That wasn’t what it said; but it was me closing a chapter that I wished didn’t end. Looking back, it needed to. I dropped it off at her doorstep and began the grieving process.
A year and a day later I look back and think that those circumstances needed to happen. Summer was ending and we both needed to grow.
“They say if you love it, you should let it out its cage. And fuck it, if it comes back, you know it’s there to stay.” This quote from Jay Z’s ode to his beloved summer was and is very appropriate. I spent the fall feeling incredibly lost. But I needed to feel lost to be reminded of who I really am. I spent the autumn grieving, the winter releasing and beginning to rebuild, the spring seeing things beginning to bud again, and by the time I returned from Virginia summer had returned in spite of still being distant.
This summer I needed space from some of everything. My return to where Timile is resting gave me clarity. By August I had a couple nights where I flirted and kind of dated summer I had a conversation with my good friend Scott. He said that for the first time in a long time, the Chad Milner he knew was back. I wasn’t as cynical or full of self-doubt. The consensus between the two of us is that one of my finest qualities is not giving a fuck. I began to care too much about others’ perception of myself and that hindered a charm that has continously opened up doors.
People pleasing has always been my kryptonite. I’m a caretaker by nature, I don’t like conflict, and I’ll do whatever to keep both from happening. Happiness is being my unabashed self and things tend to work out when I do. On the other hand, I am a control freak who trusts no one. My distrust meant I was searching for an unhealthy amount and the balance was off.
There is nothing in the world like summer in New York. However, fall is my favorite time of year and I honestly believe my home is even greater. The eleventh of September is a reminder that a new year for me starts in two months and eleven days. My daughter started school last week and thirty is coming. Time to get back to doing what I do as Jay so eloquently put it: thuggin’ ’till the casket dips.