June Gloom

We have been experiencing what is called June Gloom in California. And if you live along the coast it is June Gloomier. At this time of year the sun does not come out until somewhere between 4:30 pm and 7:00 pm if at all. Our days are spent in a thick gray overcast, which can permeate into your brain. Your power of thinking is reduced to two questions, “Am I hot or am I cold?” And your main exercise consists of putting your sweater on and taking it off. June Gloom can start as early as May and hang around until July 5th. This date is important to note because June Gloom doesn’t want us to have a clear view of the July 4th fireworks.

I think of June Gloom as a distressed stripper who wants to entertain and make the boys happy, but can’t. She is just too sad. But I digress.

When I was sixteen and old enough to drive my father’s car, I ‘d pick up my girlfriends Gail and Lenore around 9am and we would drive down to Santa Monica beach. We’d spread our towels on the sand and lie down shivering waiting for the sun to come out. Sometimes if we were lucky the sun would pierce through the gray mass but then quickly disappear again.

We also waited for the hamburger shack to open. I can still remember the smell of those frying burgers and the texture of thick white Wonder Bread buns along with the sharp tang of sliced dill pickles and mustard.

These excursions were freeing. Going to the beach made us feel adult. We were thirty miles from home and out of view of our mothers. Pretending not to notice the lean strong lifeguards (oh, to be saved) we’d run down to the water and scream and giggle as the icy cold waves bit at our toes.

Packing up, we would trudge back to my father’s car and pile in. We’d sit a moment awed by the fact that in June Gloom we got sunburned. Gail and Lenore would turn a golden brown. I would peel and stay the color of wonder bread.

June Gloom never kept us from performing this ritual. We were young and school was out and we wanted to wear our new bathing suits. Besides, we had dreams and could feel our futures waiting for us on the other side of the heavy gray mist. I wanted to be a writer, something I never shared with my friends. Gail wanted to be an actress. And we all knew she would be because she was so good in drama class and she acted like she was a star. Lenore, the good Catholic girl, wanted to get married and raise a family.

Lenore did get married but she also became a computer maven on Wall Street. She didn’t even know what a computer was back then on the beach. None of us did.

I became the actress and eventually a published writer.

Gail died at twenty-five years old. Alone.

I still feel the hope and sadness that June Gloom brings each year.

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