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The summer of my discontent

by Matt Harvey

ASST. MANAGING EDITOR

As a kid, Friday night through Sunday afternoon was a great time for me because I was cut loose from all the responsibilities of school. But by Sunday evening, even though it was still technically the weekend, it was no longer a lark.

By Monday morning, I was usually all right again; it was back to the routine, and I no longer had time to miss the freedom and fun of the weekend. I had put it behind me.

I had many of the same feelings I'd get on a Sunday night for almost all of each August, probably because I knew I'd be back in class by the end of that month.

One time, though, I was glad for August to come to an end. You've heard of the summer of fun? This was my summer of not so hardly any fun.

Heading into my sixth-grade year in school, I was really starting to grow. And for whatever reason, the intensity of my asthma attacks grew right along with me.

My doctor may very well have saved my life by ordering me to spend my whole summer indoors, with the air conditioning on. But I certainly didn't feel that way then.

I read a lot that summer, watched a lot of TV (at least what was available on the three channels we could receive out in the country) and otherwise tried to entertain myself indoors.

I can recall getting pretty bored with the whole ordeal. So bored that I think probably for the only time in my life I was looking forward to school. Put it this way: The highlight of my summer was my dad letting me open the window (no small compromise) and take a shot with the .22 rifle at a groundhog. I'm sure I missed, of course, but my family graciously let me believe I had perhaps at least wounded the animal, and that it might have snuck off to die. The excitement of all that was enough to keep my spirits up at least for a couple of days.

By the time school came around again, I was in the worst shape of my life. Because I couldn't run and play -- and because I had eaten so much -- I gained lots of weight. Now I was one of the slowest kids in my class instead of one of the fastest. And my asthma continued to bother me.

I still probably too often regret the end of the weekend or the end of the summer. Perhaps that's just human nature.

But looking back on that lonely, boring summer, I can truly say I didn't have that problem that year. That was one August that couldn't end soon enough.

It was good to be back as part of the world, which was really what going back to school meant for me that year.

Assistant Managing Editor Matt Harvey can be reached at (304) 626-1442 or by e-mail at mharvey@exponent-telegram.com