Leaves hint gold along the edges, sweaters slowly creep out of storage, and cats snuggle more on their human heaters. As much as I enjoy the crisp air and hot cocoa of fall and eagerly anticipate kids running around in Halloween costumes, extorting candy from strangers, I feel a slight melancholy as mid-afternoon Slurpee runs dwindling down to a trickle.
A 7-11 is a quick jaunt away from my office. On the rare days I'm sitting at my desk, returning phone calls and catching up on paperwork, I get an urge to be anywhere other than where I am around 3 pm. I notice smudges on my computer screen, my feet start dancing on their own volition under my desk, and I even consider--horrors of horrors--shifting my heaps of paper into orderly skyscrapers to avoid writing one more word. Then, a flash of hope crosses my mind: this is a great time to walk down and get a Slurpee.
Inspired by the Hope of the Slurpee, I trudge on through even a couple of reports or a few more notes, poll the office for any cohorts and take orders to bring back. My therapist friend and I grab our refill cups and we scoot out the door, feeling a little more free. We hold a quick bitch session, and we swelter in the summer heat walking through nondescript parking lots, under a highway overpass, and across the street. No matter the heat, we always walk. . .
As we enter the air-conditioned oasis that is the 7-11, we glance over the flavor options and test the spouts for consistency. (There's pina colada, but it spits mostly water. The cherry seems to have the best icy smoothness. The "diet" is always out of order.) We then spend another five minute pounding the air out of our cups and filling them again to the top. The Slurpee keeps me going the rest of the day until I go on a late home visit, or just go home.
Now fall is in creeping around the corner and summer is slipping away, folks are more inclined to coffee and driving than Slurpees and walking. I'm also the third staff member to leave in a couple of months. My replacement has already headed for the hills before she even walked in the corral.
Most importantly, I don't think any of them could ever truly understand and appreciate the art of the Slurpee. But my time is limited, and I am ready to hit the trail.