The First Day in August

On the first day in August
I want to wake up by your side
After sleeping with you
On the last night in July
In the morning
We’ll catch the sun rising
And we’ll chase it from the mountains
To the bottom of the sea

When the day is over
And the night air comes to chill us
You’ll build a fire
And we’ll watch the flames dancing

You’ll fall asleep
With your arm around my shoulder
And nothing will come between us
On the first night in August
The first day in August

“The First Day in August,” by Carole King & Charles Larkey

As a teenager, I was fascinated with this song, with the intoxicating idea of adult life as a date that never ends. Of course, marriage isn’t exactly like this. On workdays, Beth’s away for at least ten hours and weekends are often consumed with chores and errands. Vacations are the best opportunity for uninterrupted family togetherness, but of course, that togetherness now includes two small, lovable, but very demanding people. As it happens, we are all on vacation now. We’re staying at a cabin in Oglebay ( with two friends of Beth’s from high school. It’s like a grown-up, week-long slumber party.

However, on the first day of August I didn’t wake up by anyone’s side, not June’s and not even Beth’s. On the first two nights of our stay here, June has slept, not only in her own bed, but in a different room than me for the first time in her life, apart from the five nights she spent in the newborn nursery under observation for jaundice. On the first night here we put June and Noah to bed in their own room together and she woke around ten and cried and Beth went to settle her down and she slept the rest of the night. Then last night she slept right through. On both mornings she has slept in until around seven or so, which makes for some pretty luxurious sleeping conditions. She seems to like having Noah in the room (she’s put out if he wakes before she does and leaves to go read in the living room where it’s light) and he says “It’s fun having Juney in the room,” so we’re thinking about moving her into his room soon after we get home.

This extra sleep came just when I needed it most. One reason Beth and I are sleeping in separate beds is that I’m sick. Our bedroom has two double beds. We’re used to a queen so sharing a double makes for close quarters for two plus-size women, even under optimal circumstances. Given the choice of room to stretch out and intimacy with my hacking cough and sniffling and the rustling of my cough drop wrappers and tissues, Beth chose her own bed. It’s certainly the choice I’d make in her shoes and I am also enjoying the roomy bed all to myself.

Our cabin-mates are Heather and Sue, each of whom is a single mom with one boy apiece. Baruc is four and Jake is almost six. Since June’s used to playing with her older brother and Noah is used to playing with his younger sister, the dynamic between them is pretty good, if quite loud. They all enjoy bouncing balls and playing with the bubble rocket, which you launch by stomping on a pad that forces air into the rocket, causing it to rise from its bed of bubble soap into the air, leaving a trail of bubbles behind it. It’s really quite an impressive sight. They also like running around on the grass outside the cabin and looking for the deer that wander through the park in great numbers. When Baruc and June proposed that the two of them go alone into the woods to “look for the deer’s house” (a plan immediately squelched by the two children’s three mothers), Jake and Noah almost simultaneously chimed in that “deer don’t have houses!”

In the morning I took June to the playground while Beth and Noah headed for Target to pick up a few things we forgot the pack (pajamas for Noah and a swim suit for me). We stayed until she wanted to leave, which almost never happens. It turns out an hour and thirty-five minutes is how long she wants to stay at the playground.

In the afternoon, while June and I napped (I slept an hour and a half on top of a rare eight hours’ sleep), everyone else went to the swimming pool. Then Beth took June to the playground again (they stopped at the nature center where June played with animal puppets and colored). Noah and I stayed home and watched Monsters, Inc. with Baruc and Jake, both of whom fell asleep on the couch in the middle.

Relatives started trickling in later in the afternoon. Beth’s mom and Aunt Carole, Heather’s mother, Sue’s father, stepmother and sister all came for dinner. They brought pasta salad, fruit salad, homemade chocolate chip cookies and two kinds of pie (peach and strawberry-rhubarb). We feasted on shish kabobs and the food the guests brought. Afterwards the kids tore around the lawn and the grown-ups talked and played cards.

We’ll be here a week. There are paddleboats and miniature golf and a marshmallow roast and berry picking expedition and a nature hike on the agenda. I’m sure there will be more trips to the playground and the pool, during this long, lazy first week of August.

On the first night of August I went to sleep alone again. I was starting to feel a little better, enough to miss Beth, just a few feet away but in a different bed. I wondered if I’d be up coughing again and how contagious I was, but in the end I didn’t ask her to join me. The endless date of our twenties, thirties and beyond is going well, I think, but I’m at a point in my life where space to myself, for myself is almost as exotic as sleeping all night with a lover was in my girlish imagination.