I've spent most of my life dreading October, the month when it becomes obvious that summer is at an end. Grey skies move in, bringing, rain, cold, frost, and the prospect of what feels like six months during which the sun barely climbs above the houses on the other side of the street. Someone told me October was the month characterised by uprising and revolution, because that's the time of year when everyone gets so pissed off that they just have to do something about it.
I moved to San Antonio and assumed it would all be different nearer to the equator. It is all different, but now the month is August, and it's at least been a relief to realise that it isn't just me. August in Texas is punishing in terms of heat, with midday temperatures having reached 110° Fahrenheit some years. In San Antonio's favour, we're on the edge of the hill country, so we're high up and we don't suffer the additional burden of the humidity they get in Houston and to the east. The heat is more bearable up to a point. We all have air conditioning, so we stay inside during the day and do whatever else we need to do during the morning, at least before eleven, or in the evening. Unfortunately, whilst tolerable, such siege conditions mean that all other inconveniences and irritations seem amplified. If you're going to blow, then it will probably happen in August, and most years are conditional to whether we can just make it through to September. My wife told me she once considered seeking counseling in the hope of dealing with August.
This time it began with a sick cat. Jello stopped eating and took to spending whole days asleep in the back of the closet. We decided it was a cold and hoped he'd be better in a couple of days, but he wasn't, so my wife had a look in some book of feline ailments, then wished she hadn't, having found a good few describing our boy's symptoms as indicating something terminal. We took him to the vet and found it was just some viral deal, so he recovered and is now fine; but that sleepless night of wondering whether or not he'd be dead in the morning cast a long shadow.
Then my wife's car broke down, necessitating an entire Saturday hanging around at a garage in the heat.
Then hordes of angry, ill-informed white people emerged from the Texan woodwork to protest the removal of Confederate statues coincidentally erected during an era of pronounced racism, which probably wasn't surprising, but it was surprising that there should be any of the fuckers living in San Antonio - probably not the wisest place to make your home if you dislike brown people for whatever reason.
Then it all kicked off in Charlottesville, whilst the internet burst at the seams with voices of reason telling us that Nazis have as much right to express their reservations about multicultural society and whether the Holocaust actually happened as the rest of us, and that politically correct thugs need to respect that right, and that we need to address their concerns rather than calling them rude names.
Then my computer blew up, as I knew it eventually would.
Then Hurricane Harvey showed up, so we sat glued to the weather channel and the map of the big purple zone in which we could be forgiven for shitting ourselves, and San Antonio was just inside the predicted realm of doom. Thankfully all we saw was a shitload of wind and rain before Harvey swerved away in the general direction of Houston, so there were a couple of days spent waiting to die, followed by the awful feeling of being glad it had happened to someone else, which is never good. I grew up in England where the worst natural disasters tend to take the form of flooding, and I grew up in a part of England where that never happened, so this was all new to me. There had been a couple of tornadoes which hit the city about a year before, and we had to take shelter at the centre of the house with all the doors closed at one point, waiting for it to pass and fuck up some other neighbourhood; but that had been an exception, and this felt different. The news crews were telling us to stock up on bottled water, and the supermarkets were all packed to capacity with people doing just that as the sky turned darker over towards the south-east. The weather channel in particular seemed to be creaming its pants over the doom which was to unfold, and Godzilla had already been sighted making landfall somewhere near Brownsville.
Yet, we were lucky, and we knew it just as soon as they started sending evacuees from Corpus Christi and Rockport to San Antonio. We knew they weren't going to send them here if there was any chance of it being frying pan to fire, so we sat tight and it passed; and the weird thing is that even what rain we had wasn't so severe as it's been on a couple of occasions.
Houston was nevertheless screwed, and we have friends and family in Houston, and yet again the internet has exploded with stupidity, resentful morons pointing out that they hadn't seen any #blacklivesmatter rescue trucks speeding to help out at the scene of the deluge; and, despite all of my best efforts, it became briefly difficult to feel good about humanity in general.
Everything piled up, became overwhelming.
I smoked again. I found myself irritated at the kid leaving the kitchen light on all night. I experienced that sensation of joylessness which had been with me up until about 2011. I just couldn't feel good about anything. I experienced endless self-involved thoughts.
But September is now here.
Jello the cat is bouncing around the garden.
The new computer works.
We're still alive.
It will all seem better in a month or so, even if it isn't.