The other day I was visited by a memory from the early days of my marriage, when my wife and I still lived in the old house on the south side of San Antonio. This was when we were both in our early twenties and nearly broke all the time, always on the verge of eviction from the house we rented for $520 a month. Still, we had a lot of friends back then—more friends than we have now—and these friends were always coming over with bottles of wine and half-finished paintings they wanted to show us, poems they wanted to read us, songs they wanted to play for us. There were a lot of parties back then—parties almost every night—and Madeline and I, still in the early years of our marriage, still childless, were somehow always hosting these parties in our house, though I can’t remember ever sending out formal invitations or even ever shopping in advance for them. They were more like spontaneous affairs, and all we really provided, aside from good will, and a kind of open door policy when it came to strangers, was the house itself.
With July well underway, we’veput together a list of transportive pieces that encapsulate the spirit of summer—the dust above the country roads, the coolness of the waterfronts, the anticipation of autumn, and of course, the sticky, melting sweetness of ice cream. Take a trip through space and time with these summery selections.
“If I’m going to tell you the story of how I lost two people who were closer than blood to me, I have to begin here in Dennett, Texas, during the summer between the sophomore and junior years of my life. This story begins as it ends, with me, Cirilo Izquierdo, waiting for what all of us spend our whole lives waiting for: not to be alone anymore.” — Throw: A Novel, by Rubén Degollado
If I offer you the words contemplative novel, you may not immediately picture—for example—someone getting stabbed in the leg with a pencil. You may not picture a tangle of high schoolers fighting and flirting, fueling rumors and throwing shade and roaming lowrider car shows.
Three Words to Describe the Climate: Sunny, windy, dusty
Best time of the year to visit: Every season in Lubbock has its challenges, but I like it best in either May or September when everything is green and flowering, the hottest days are still either in front of us or past, and the wind is slightly less intense (though it never really goes away).
Tesoro, a blood-bay quarter horse, galloped toward me across the fall grass. The temperature had dipped 25 degrees from a few hours before, the wind’s sharp whine outside the barn colder still. Weather changed that fast in Texas, locals using the expression bluenorther to describe Arctic air charging from the north without stopping.
Down around Port Arthur the tumbleweed, that mobile diaspore,
flings its seeds in a race with time, dying in a pool of rain or oil.
And what they have is a lot of sky and oil tanks coddling crude
and girls in much more underwear than they wear way up North.
Mining land is deeply scarred and raw, the gravel pits alien,
like lunar landscapes or the bank where Charon plies his trade.
The young ones necking in their cars, the ugly bars, showed you
the rocking road away from that stripped coastal town.
South of Hugo, Colorado on Highway 287, the land is wiped clean, the prairie grasses and flowers of spring cut to the root by cattle, their shining white teeth. Dung, dark stains on the land running the fencelines, remnants of progress, the way we produce meat in this country. It cannot have rained in many days. These hard-pan flats, the leading edge of the Great Plains east off the Rockies, turn a dust devil against the horizon to the south.