The End of Musikfest, and Summer in the Lehigh Valley

Sunday, August 14th, 2016- I’m walking around Downtown Bethlehem, mug of beer in hand (Goose Island on the first, Yuengling on the second), as I have most Summers since 2004. It’s the last day of Musikfest, a mini-holiday to me over the years, as it marks many different things in my life. In my teen years, it was the last day before Fall practice started for Cross-Country, or the start of Fall practices for all of my friends, sometimes the first time you’d see your friends since June. When I got to college, it was a huge party weekend, as I went up the street to Moravian College, and we would all come back for fireworks. As a young adult, it marked the night I got two of my best friends together, who are now married and about to have a kid. As I’m now in my early thirties, I now spend this day usually at Musikfest during daylight hours, and some years have stuck around for the fireworks, but mostly at distance, up the hill, or somewhere quieter.

Yesterday was great. I walked around, drank some good beer, ate a London Broil wrap, listened to music, and enjoyed my surroundings. I ran into a bunch of people, talked about everything from the food and music, to sports, to the election, to “the good old days,” which for me are certainly associated with Downtown Bethlehem. It was a calming day, something I desperately needed after an awful 2016 to this point. For the first time in a very long time, I was actually relaxed, both mentally and physically. It was soothing, in a way.

The day passed though, and today it’s all over. No more roaming the streets of Bethlehem with a mug, and no more Summer really. Some other young guy is going to his first day of practice at Easton High School today, as opposed to 33 year old me, which is actually a humbling thought. Some other young man is preparing for their freshman year at Moravian College, as opposed to 19 year old me, which is an even more humbling thought. While it feels hot out yet, and I’ll go to an IronPigs game tonight in Allentown, today is the day every year that I still realize that Fall is coming, and this wave of heat and uncertainty that I always seem to go through in the Summer, is over. It’s actually, at least in 2016, a really nice feeling.

It’s also the first year I’ve realized i’m not that young anymore. At 33, some of the rituals of life up to this point really have no meaning anymore. I haven’t participated in a competitive sporting event since 2002, this is the eleventh Fall since I graduated college, and i’ve grown pretty tired of my career, and politics in general. I’m at a frustrating point in life. There’s a good chance that the next months will bring about some sort of significant change for me.

Even so, I think I’ll be there in 365 days. I’ll hear that clarinet playing “Tears in Heaven” on Main Street, go to a couple of friends’ shows, and probably get a gyro, taco, and wrap next year too. I’ll get that mug, again, as I do every year. I’ll also run into at least one person I haven’t seen in five years, and have a discussion with them like it was just yesterday, because why not? Some old habits never die. This is how Summers in the Lehigh Valley die though, and frankly, it’s pretty glorious.