Sure, it really ends on September 21 or whatever, but everyone knows that the de facto end to summer comes today, Labor Day. It’s the real Black Monday. We were lucky enough to have spent our Labor Day weekend on Kure Beach, North Carolina (pictured above), a sleepy little hideaway located deep in the southern part of N.C. on the Cape Fear coast, almost bordering South Carolina. All told, there probably wasn’t a better way to wrap up the unofficial end of summer than three days at Kure Beach and, as you might expect, it comes with anecdotes.My wife attended school at Guilford College, located a few hours northwest of Kure in the north-central part of the state. You’ll know you’re there when you hit that hard left on the policital spectrum (which, as you know, I’m ok with). Anyway, upon walking through the door as a freshman, she befriended quite a few people and those friendships seem as tight and impressive as those early autumn days of 1989. Some came, some went, but the core of people remain friends to this day. So each Labor Day, they all gather to catch up in person, rent a space to crash, hit the beach, laugh, drink and be extraordinary merry on the south coast of North Carolina.

I have to say, it’s really something to bear witness to this. I’m even a wee-bit envious that I can’t boast of a similar group from my own college. This can be attributed almost solely to gender, however. The majority of the group here is made up of females, whose desire for social interaction and planning skills far outweigh that of their male counterparts. Once the males are there, we’re incredibly glad it’s occuring, but ask us to plan it and it would inevitably fall apart faster than Tara Reid.

Regardless, it’s really admirable and nice to see that a group of people can put aside location, time, work and, in general, the cards that life has dealt them to try to attend, year in and year out. The fascianting and unstoppable march of time has certainly bulged the group – there are now honorary Guilfordians, be it children or spouses who are sharing in the seeds that have been sprouted here. I have quite a few friends from college, equally spread out across the world, and I’ve probably seen each of them once or twice at best since graduation. How sweet would it be to see them each year like this? To relive our own memories and laugh at our own ridiculous antics from those relatively carefree days? Gosh, that would be sweet.

Those memories will, in all likelihood, remain stored in memory for me and my college friends, rarely to be unearthed and at some point, largely forgotten. Sad, but I’m easily in the majority on that one.

So it was at one point last night when select members of the group were posing for photographs and laughing hysterically when I, perched on a countertop observing it all, turned to one of the other spouses and simply said “isn’t this just incredible how these people stay in each other’s lives like this?” He nodded, almost vigorously, as if he had also been thinking exactly the same things I had been ruminating over. We both went on to admit mild envy. It was a very short conversation, but it was long in both our minds. It’s really fun to watch a bunch of really good people still enjoy the hell out of each other. I can’t speak to little spats or run-ins over the years that have surely happened (see: human nature), but it really is a terribly interesting sociological experience.

As I sit here and type tonight, I’ve got The Rolling Stones “I Got The Blues” playing on ITunes and I’m thinking about the flight home from North Carolina today and then the drive home from Manchester, NH after we landed. Both Stephanie and I were pretty dog-tired and experiencing that weekly impending doom of having to go back to our regular business tomorrow. I’ve pretty much felt it every Sunday since I had to do homework and study for tests. You know it, too – that gloomy feeling you get at the end of each weekend. Well, today’s was particularly bluesy because it marks the end of another summer.

So we’re driving home, down I-495 South, beaten, and my wife says to me, “hey, look at the crescent moon.” I tilt my eyes up just a smidge and look at, in my eyes, the real last beauty of summer – a thin sliver of a whitish moon, serving as the backdrop for one of those absolutely perfect New England twilight skies – a mix of blue, then light-blue and finally, purple-pink at the horizon. It all made me just wish I was living in a fantasy movie where I could pull the car over and freeze time to just sit there and stare at it, fighting off the ticking clock. But I suppose that’s one of nature (and life’s) best tricks: dangle something beautiful out there for a minute or two, then take it away, the sole purpose of beauty’s disappearance is then for us to wish it back. To be there and witness it again, life intact, when the next crescent moon hangs over that multi-colored sky. Or to be there when a group of friends all see each other again after another year.

Now, it’s on to my favorite time of year.