The beginning of summer often crawls in slowly, bringing with it its warm winds; the flights of butterflies, bees, and mosquitoes; and that welcome sense of freedom. The days can be hot and sticky, filled with incredible thunderstorms, or the perfect combination of sun and wind. These days are long. But they are filled with laughter and adventure; ocean waves and sandy feet; live music and drinks with old friends; campfires and never-ending dancing; early morning sunrises and late night stargazing; salty, sun kissed skin and worn out sunglasses; fresh garden foods and celebrations for every cause. While the rest of year tends to blur together in a hurry of strict schedules, deadlines, after school activities, and the constant longing for the next weekend, life slows down in the summertime. There is more time to relax. To spend time with people. To spend time outside.
Summer has always been a magical season. As the long days ease into the cool evenings and crisp mornings of autumn, we prepare for another bittersweet goodbye.
Soon after my family moved (to the mighty New York City suburb I have called home for more than fifteen years), the Jersey Shore became one of our summer staples. We would meet our extended Illinois family there and cram into a tiny seaside house for one week each summer to celebrate the Fourth of July. Days were filled with building giant sand creatures, racing to the Italian ice truck, and splashing in the waves for as long as possible. Our evenings were occupied by barbecued dinners, endless competitive dominos tournaments, and walks to the ice cream shop down the block.
We also made trips to visit family and friends who we had left behind on the Pacific Coast. There, our time was occupied by frequent trips to Rubio’s, afternoons on the beach, evening bike rides, all kinds of sea life, and long car rides on the California highways. The rest of my childhood summers were filled with soccer games, catching fireflies, long hours in the pool pretending I was a fish or a mermaid, playing with the neighborhood kids, more bug bites than I could count, turning another year older, and so much ice cream.
Summer, by all means, has always meant home to me. A time and a place (and the people) always worth celebrating, worth relishing. Where I can relax and watch the world slow down to a comfortable pace. Where every second matters more than the last, but not quite as much as the next. And by the time I was in college, this season was home to me even more. For a few months every year, I was reunited with the friends with whom I had survived elementary, middle, and high school. Our adventures were often far from grand–in fact, they often involved making silly faces, talking in fake accents, and watching Pretty Little Liars together every week–but they were still spectacular.
But at the end of each August, as we packed up our cars and headed back to school… Or long before, as we filled our backpacks with freshly sharpened pencils and unopened notebooks… Or now, as everyone I know is beginning yet another new journey in each corner of the world… We do not say goodbye–at least, not for good. We say farewell to the carefree season. To the buzzing and burning and beaming of these longs months.
We will see each other soon.