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  • Writer's pictureSteve Szakal

The Perfect August

The Summer between 8th grade and freshman year is a pretty cool time. You are starting to feel grown up. You begin to really appreciate things like music, art, movies, and bo

oks. You might start to experiment with drugs and possibly go to your first beer party in the woods.


I can remember one summer day at my friend Mike's house. He was our rich friend who's family is the most generous and giving people I have ever known. I never went on a family vacation growing up because we just didn't have the money. I went to the beach every summer with his family. Their house was a special place. The best food, always gatorades to drink after playing basketball and a huge in-ground pool.


Mike had a cousin who was a few years older than us. She was the cool cousin. She knew everything about music and movies and books. That summer day we were all swimming and she put a CD in the radio and after a few seconds I heard this guitar riff that immediately made me stop whatever I was doing and listen. I then heard this opening lyric:


"Step out the front door like a ghost into the fog Where no one notices the contrast of white on white And in between the moon and you The angels get a better view Of the crumbling difference between wrong and right

Well, I walk in the air between the rain Through myself and back again Where? I don't know"


Those words are from The Counting Crows song "Around Here" from the Album "August and Everything After" their first record. As a 14 year old kid that opening line burned a hole through my conscious. Every song after Around Here was also amazing. Omaha, Blue Buildings, Mr. Jones, Anna Begins.....


Every song was amazing. Usually a record has two or three good songs and the rest is just filler crap. But this was different. I knew that I was hearing something perfect. The next time I was able to get to the mall I bought that CD. I listened to it over and over. Two other albums from my youth: Dave Matthews "Under the Table and Dreaming" and Pearl Jams "Ten" were also pivotal in my teens.


Listening to that album was the first time I recognized perfection. Those guys walked into a room and a few days later they created something perfect. No matter what else happened in their career, they would have that one perfect moment.


That idea of "one perfect moment" has haunted me since I was a child. I always wanted that one perfect moment. I have been close a few times and maybe I was perfect in that one moment but deep down I am still going after it. I have a few great basketball games, my first 100 mile race was almost perfect. But I don't think it was a "august and everything after" perfect.


I have now began to appreciate the small "perfect" moments in my life. Being a teacher I witness moments of perfection all the time. Every day my students amaze me and I am honored to be a part of that moment.


Only I will know my own moment of perfection. And when it happens I'll smile and think of that day I heard that guitar riff at my friends swimming pool.

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