Spokane, as all my college friends are happy to continually remind me, isn't perfect. The falls in Spokane are too frigid, the winters are too slushy and sloppy, the springs are too rainy and sneezy — and the summer days are often too hot, too itchy, too bright. At their worst summer days, Spokane feels heavy, bloated like a hangover.
But, oh, those summer nights.
The sun dips lower, the colors deepen, the shadows stretch. The heat ebbs just enough to stop being sharp and start being rich. The temperature hits a zone of perfect that no amount of thermostat fiddling could ever achieve.
The ambient noise becomes a symphony, the sprinklers hissing, bike spokes clicking, kids laughing, insects chirping, the bird songs, the ice cream truck jingles, the hum of backyard barbecues all harmonizing together. It almost sounds like nostalgia, except for the present instead of the past.
And then we decide to get a bite to eat. We don't drive. We'd be fools to spend a second caged up in a car in an evening like this. Instead, we walk downtown — thank God, I live close enough — our route meandering like our conversation does. The waiter asks if we want to have dinner on the patio, almost rhetorically — "yes" is only a formality. We linger over one drink, then another, then another. It's dark, but we keep talking. We tip more than usual.
In most seasons, the downtown either shuts down or speeds up at night. But here, it's like time slows down instead, letting us drift along for hours in our shared smiles, our sublime silences, our little sighs of tranquility.
And on the walk home, I can feel myself falling in love with the woman walking beside me. Or maybe — maybe it's not her at all. Maybe I'm falling in love with this moment, with this city — with the Spokane summer nights.