July is heat. July is bright. July is a quest for shade, a quest that sometimes proves futile even when you complete it.

July is blue. Blue skies. Blue parts of flags. Blue fireworks that sometimes could be confused for purple. This is also the month for punks -- not people with attitude, but the skinny smoldering sticks you use to light firecrackers. Ever hold a firecracker in one hand, the punk in the other, light the firecracker and then throw the punk instead? Thankfully, I still have all my fingers.

July is Sunkist commercials and cold generic cream soda. It's festival beer in a 16-ounce cup. July is frozen Sno-Cones -- not the freshly made ones, but ones that you buy from the ice cream man and are solid ice, with its blue, cherry and lemon flavors melding together into a sort of purple color as you lick it down.

The smells of sunscreen and chlorine are so July.

July is "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,"  "Die Hard 2" and "Escape From New York." It's Tron and Dragon's Lair and R.C. Pro Am.. It's "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman, Stone Temple Pilots' "Plush" and songs from the "Grease" soundtrack.

On a summer morning, the sunlight that comes into your room to wake you up, foreshadowing a great day, is July. On a summer afternoon, July is slogging through a summer job, bittersweetly wishing that grind would end but knowing that when it does, summer ends as well. At night, July is the atmosphere around you as the city cools (though, some days it doesn't), when being outdoors is relief from the heat and the best nights of the entire year.

Then there is the humming -- the humming from the air conditioner dangling out a window that is keeping that one room of your house cool. That humming is such an escape during the day and so blissfully calming as you are trying to fall asleep.

This is July.


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