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Meg Pittelko: This August yielded uncommon personal insights

While this summer saw more levity than its frightening, socially-distanced predecessor, it still ached with the desire to return to a normal state of being and simmered with the anxiety that we’ve all become accustomed to lately.

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Post Bulletin columnist Meg Pittelko June 11, 2021. (Ken Klotzbach / kklotzbach@postbulletin.com)

There is something about this time of the year that I equally love and loathe. The lazy, sun-soaked days of summer are starting to fade away, replaced by the frenzy of school-supply shopping or the desperation to squeeze in one last vacation before the air turns cool again.

As a child and as a college student, it meant preparing for all of the things that come with a new school year. As an adult, it has meant so many different things over the year that it’s impossible to categorize. Either way, August has always rounded out the summer with a vibrant, strange kind of energy.

I typically use up my one “big” vacation of the year during these final days of summer and spend the week with family up north. My family has been doing this for more than 50 years, the one last hurrah before our college students scatter across the country, our school professionals brace themselves to start a new year, and the rest of us start saving our PTO again. Each year, I find myself sitting by the lake and reflecting on what has changed since the previous year -- a sort of accidental, summertime version of what most people do on New Years’ Eve.

Some years, the week is fueled by excitement for a new adventure or gratitude for things that transpired over the course of the previous year. Other years, it’s characterized by a quiet lull in the general chaos of life or a somber understanding that a greater change has taken place, one that has altered everything else. There have been years permeated by laughter and introspection and major life decisions, and there have been years lost to time and memory.

And then there is this year, which was different than any of the others.

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Not only have we been living with the COVID-19 pandemic and various quarantines and a wealth of uncertainty, but there have also been significant shifts in my own life, unexpected pivots that my lakeside reflections never could have predicted. While this summer saw more levity than its frightening, socially-distanced predecessor, it still ached with the desire to return to a normal state of being and simmered with the anxiety that we’ve all become accustomed to lately.

All of these things made the week stand out this year, but what made it stand out the most was the realization that I was no longer using it as a way to measure how far I had come in the past year or how far I hoped I would be next year.

Instead, I was only using it as a series of quiet moments to be grateful for exactly where I am.

Meg Pittelko is a young professional and journalist who moved to Rochester during the pandemic. Send comments on columns to Jeff Pieters, jpieters@postbulletin.com.

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