Summer As a Weekend by Joe

This post is by Joe Stephens

This post is appearing in late June, but I’m writing it on Memorial Day, the date known to many as the unofficial start to summer. And the weather today is really bearing that out. Warm and muggy with the promise of thunderstorms over the next day or so.

It might sound odd (seems like I say that a lot), but I think the Memorial Day weekend is my favorite part of summer. And it’s for the same reason that Friday afternoon is my favorite part of a weekend. They share a lot of characteristics, as do various parts of weekends and summer. Stick with me and hopefully this will make sense by the end. Or not. But I’ll enjoy it either way.

Before I go any further, let me say that I’m not in any way trying to make light of or be disrespectful about the true meaning of Memorial Day. I am deeply grateful for the sacrifice so many men and women have made to maintain the american, flag, blue, sky, United States, USA, stars and stripesunparalleled freedoms we share here in the United States. Please accept my thanks.

Now, on to the reason I’m writing this.

Why is Friday afternoon my favorite part of the weekend? Several reasons. First, it’s the very beginning. It’s  as early as it can possibly be and still be the weekend. The whole rest of the freedom is stretched out before me. Plus, on Frgirl, woman, field, grass, nature, sunshine, sunny, summer, dress, fashion, peopleiday night, I can stay up later than during the week because I don’t usually have to set an alarm the next morning. Saturday is the bulk of the weekend, but on Saturday night I can’t stay up all hours like I can on Friday because I go to church on Sunday morning, so I have to get to bed at a semi-decent hour. And as a school teacher, Sunday after church and lunch with family and/or friends is usually just pre-school stuff. Grading, planning, reading (that I have to do, as opposed to reading I choose to do), preparing. It’s barely the weekend at all.

So what has that to do with Memorial Day? Well, it’s essentially the Friday of the season. It’s as early as it can be and still be, by any definition, summer. As a teacher of seniors, I’m even finished teaching for the year. The whole rest of the warm, relaxed, fun-filled days lie ahead of me. It’s pure potential. For more than two months, any school related activity I do will be purely voluntary.

The time from my last actual day of school right up to July 4th is Saturday. The couple weeks after Independence Day are Saturday night. As much as I hate to, I have to start getting back into the habit of going to bed at a decent hour and getting up early so that when school starts I won’t take all the way to Halloween getting acclimated. So it’s still fun, but the end of summer starts to be visible off on the horizon.

It used to be, back when I was a student, that Labor Day was the Sunday night of summer. I can clearly remember staying up most of the night watching Jerry Lewis and Ed McMahon on the telethon and my mom not letting me sleep all day because of those four dreaded words: “It’s a school night.”fireworks, sky, night, dark, smoke, evening, entertainment, people, spectators, crowd

Now, though, Labor Day is more like Monday afternoon. My first day back to school in the year coming up will be August 11, so the end of July and the first third of August are analogous in my mind to Sunday. It’s barely even summer at all. Football, soccer, and volleyball practices have started, autumn decorations are on sale in all the stores, and I’m in my room more regularly getting ready to start the year. If I close my eyes and breathe deeply, I can even smell it in the air. August, though still technically summer, starts to take on a different odor. No longer do we smell the perfumesfarm, fields, hay, rolls, grass, country, sky, clouds, sunshine of flowers and budding trees, their scents slowly being replaced by those of dying vegetation: piles of brown leaves, the rich loamy smell of a garden plowed under for the season, and the pungent whiff of bailed hay that was moist, verdant grass just a few weeks earlier.

None of this is to say I dislike Monday or autumn. I love my job, but by Friday, I’m usually ready for a break. Time to decompress and do something different—or just less. Summer is the weekend of the year in a lot of ways. And Memorial Day is the Friday of that weekend. Who knows what magic lies before me? I can’t wait to find out.

So what’s your favorite season?

Joe Stephens is a teacher at Parkersburg High School. He is also the author of Harsh Prey and Kisses and Lies, both of which are available in paperback and Kindle formats. The paperback may be purchased from
Amazon, from J & M Used Book Store in Parkersburg, and from the author’s trunk.

kindle cover

Take a look at Harsh Prey on Amazon 

Kisses and Lies Cover Michele croppedTake a look at Kisses and Lies on Amazon

Join Joe on Facebook 

Check out joe’s website.

Goodbye My Friend by Joe

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This Post by Joe Stephens

I’m new to this group, so, unless you read my biographical information first, you may not know that, in addition to writing, I’m a teacher. Specifically, I teach senior English. As hard as it is to wrap my head around, I lose another batch of students in just over two weeks. Every year in August, I swear I won’t get attached to this new batch like I do every year, but down deep I know it’s a filthy lie. I know they’ll break my heart on that last day—and I’m okay with it.

It used to be sad ladyreally hard because I thought for the first few years that these kids who cried and hugged me on the last day of school would stay in touch and would all come back to visit me regularly. And to be fair, a few did, but most didn’t. There are literally hundreds of students with whom I was quite close while they were here that I’ve literally never seen since. At first, I was bitter, but time has helped me change my perspective. I have realized that, while there are those who become permanent fixtures, for the vast majority of my students, our relationship is for a season, a specific period of time. It isn’t meant to be permanent.

That it’s somewhat transient in nature might make it seem like it’s superficial, but nothing could be less true. For ten months, I become a friend, a confidant, a mentor, a cheerleader. For some, I even become a surrogate dad. They cry on my shoulder when they break up with the ONE.  They proudly share their art work, their acceptance letters, and their good grades. They hang around in my room every minute they can get away with it. And I love every minute, despite the fact that, one day after their senior year ends, this will all end too. It’s a great feeling being needed and getting to make a positive difference in the lives of dozens of kids for that relatively brief period of time.

AnneAnd it’s not that they no longer love me. I have kids that graduated twelve, even fifteen years ago, who run up and hug me every time they see me. But the time during which we were friends who talked regularly and were an ongoing part of each other’s lives was predetermined to be finite. It had a terminus from day one.

I know I may sound like I’m trying to convince myself of this, but it really is okay that it ends. They need to move on, make new friends, grow into adults. Meanwhile, I need to make room in my heart for a new group of kids that I’ll adopt and fall in love with for ten months starting next August.

But first, a day of hugs, tears, and goodbyes.

***Who have you the most trouble saying ‘Goodbye’ to? ***

Joe Stephens is a teacher at Parkersburg High School. He is also the author of Harsh Prey and Kisses and Lies, both of which are available in paperback and Kindle formats. The paperback may be purchased from
Amazon, from J & M Used Book Store in Parkersburg, and from the author’s trunk.

kindle cover

Take a look at Harsh Prey on Amazon 

Kisses and Lies Cover Michele croppedTake a look at Kisses and Lies on Amazon

Join Joe on Facebook