There is a common question I hear these days when I see someone, perhaps at church, or the grocery store or the Y, places I go frequently but where I might run into folks I don't see on an everyday basis.
The question is, "How is your summer going?"
I'm an observer of people, and also of words, and while most people don't find that to be a peculiar question, I do.
Because how often will someone ask, during other seasons, "How is your fall going?" or "How is spring treating you?"
No, I don't believe you'll hear such a question. But people seem especially interested in how I might be enjoying summer (and I might sometimes say, "Not that much" because, as I've previously stated here, I detest hot weather).
So why does summer prompt such a question?
I have given that some thought and I think it's because, even though most of us in the upper-middle-age category are not governed by a school calendar, at one time most of us were. And summer is still considered that time when we take a breath and take a break, and friends and acquaintances want to ask us how that time is going.
I still think it's a rather strange question.
Wife and I are in the stage of life where we are called "empty nesters." It took us a while to get here. Older Son graduated from college in 2008 and moved back in with us for a little less than a year before moving out, never to return as a permanent resident.
Daughter did the same thing in 2011, the same year Younger Son graduated from high school, and they essentially passed each other as he was moving out to go to college and she was moving back in. She stayed for three years before moving out for good in late summer 2014.
Younger Son finished college last spring (2015) and was the first to not move back in immediately after college. He went right into a job in Auburn (where all three went to school) following graduation.
The job, which was working for a sports media company and website, was really an internship, and his pay was, to say the least, meager. Wife and I agreed that, because it was a good opportunity in a field that's tough to break into, we would continue to supplement him for the time being.
Back in the spring, with no prospects of the internship working into a permanent position that would pay a living wage, he decided to end his time there and move back home, which he did in late April.
He was able to do some freelance work for the publication for which I write a weekly column, but he has been actively seeking permanent employment.
He's had his ups and downs, and a couple of pretty bitter disappointments. About a month ago, a company called him after he submitted an online application, one that he confessed to me he thought was a long shot.
They asked him to interview via Skype, which he did. They asked for samples of his work and gave him a writing test. Days later they asked him to make a personal visit.
With Daughter and SIL both being teachers and being off (and often getting that question about how their summer is going), he asked if they would like to accompany him. They all three made the drive north.
Last week, it became official, and Younger Son has accepted a position in South Bend, Indiana, working for a publication that covers sports at the University of Notre Dame. He starts in early August.
He will have been with us for about three months, and he's quick to point out he had the shortest time back home after college.
Wife and I are excited for him and the opportunity this presents. It's going to be outside his comfort zone a bit location-wise, but as I've told him, everyone needs an adventure. I think this will be an exciting one for him.
I read and hear a lot about adult children who move back home. Apparently these millenials are known for it.
I don't deny the challenges it sometimes presents.
But Wife and I have been fortunate, in that for each one of our three, the time back home post-college has, for most of the time, been immensely pleasant and enjoyable.
We agreed, when it was decided that was what Younger Son would do, that we would welcome him, give him all the space he needed and, most importantly, enjoy the time.
Because we knew it wouldn't last forever, and it would be a way we would not pass again.
In three short months I have grown accustomed to having him here, and now it's going to be hard to see him go.
It's been a good summer.