Summer Evening

7:00 AM

Edward Hopper, Summer Evening, 1947
By LILI TUCKER

In (I believe) the 2014 Senior Video, teachers gave advice to seniors in the form of a tweet. While I don't remember the exact words, Dr. Ketchell's tweet contained the phrase "late-night eateries" that completely opened the floodgates and reduced me to a blubbering mess. I remember feeling so much for this 140 character tid-bit because it described, in 3 words, the very distinct type of fun you have as a young adult.  

The road trips at a drop of the hat, the eating Sonic at 2 a.m. or IHOP at 4 a.m. while wearing a toga, playing tennis in a bathing suit or basketball in complete darkness.  This kind of simple fun. No fireworks or four-step-plans. No deposits or reservations, of any kind. You forget who you are -- you forget where you are because it doesn't matter. Those late-night eateries are simply your last attempt at spending just one more half hour with the people you care about. You feel the night coming to a close so you grab their hand and take a sharp left turn onto State Line and you claim you've run out of milk and you simply must get some this instant. Or in the case of this painting, you linger on their doorstep hoping that the earth stops turning just long enough to muster up the courage to kiss her. 

For anyone who knows me well, one of my favorite things in the entire world (besides Gary Whittaker) is grocery stores after  9 p.m. The echo of your shoes hitting the linoleum, the whispering, the florescent lights. In Hopper's painting the Night Hawks, Hopper attempts to capture the feeling of the newly invented florescent lights with a switch to zinc paints. While he never uses zinc paint again, I argue that he never stops capturing that florescent light aura. Or at least the grocery store at 2 a.m. one.  

Many people call Hopper's work lonely. And while I agree that it is about 65% lonely, the term lonely oftentimes implies a sense of melancholy. I contend that Hopper's work is not lonely-- not melancholy but timeless. Hopper so wonderfully captures the moments in life that are timeless. The moments in life that exist in your memory without context, you may or may not remember what happened before or what would happen after but there are moments that can exist without knowing those things. You remember laughing so hard you cried and then crying so hard that your stomach hurt and you couldn't speak anymore so you just sat and watched tv- not saying anything and not needing to. Even though you know what comes next- what does it matter? The road trip ends, Sonic closes, you leave the camping section of Wal-mart, you go home, and you go to bed. You graduate. We all know what happens next. Hopper captures a loneliness of moving on, un-pausing, and growing up. It's not sad because when you look back, you only ever see the during, the meanwhile, the hush - the silence and the stillness. You see the florescent lights and the food on your plate and the people around you. You see time stop. 

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