Sunday, August 26, 2012

Last Days Of Summer


It's hard to believe summer is coming to an end and a new school year is about to begin.

I love this smile of pure happiness on his face.  It's the smile of childhood.

Growing up, I remember how when we were kids we would play in the sprinklers or ride our bikes to the neighborhood pool.  Since we weren't given money, my friends and I would scrounge around the playground or around the chain-link fence around the pool for lost change so we could buy something at the snack shack.  They had this one cheap candy we'd buy that the boys would call bullets and the girls would call lipsticks.  If we found enough change, we might buy chips or popsicles.

In the pool we would see who could hold their breath the longest at the bottom, Marco Polo, or who could do the silliest dive off the high dive.

I remember riding my bike with my best friend, Steven, to go see the little red haired girl I had a crush on (How Charlie Brown is that?).  She would never come out of her house, but her blonde younger sister would.  My friend Steven liked her, but she liked me, and I liked her sister.  What a triangle of young love!

If it was nice outside, we weren't allowed inside the house.  So we drank luke warm water from the hose, played in the woods behind our house, made up our own games, and basically stayed outside until it began to get dark.  Some nights we came back outside to catch fireflies or play hide n' go seek in the dark.  Or we'd watch the bats darting about overhead as they ate insects.    

I remember cookouts and my Dad making his homemade peach ice cream with real summer peaches.

The first kiss I remember happened during the summer.  We were playing war and I got shot in our front yard.  It was a magnificent death scene - worthy of an Oscar.  To really play up my death, I even rolled all the way down to the bottom of the hill.  Very dramatic.  As I lay there dead, with my eyes closed, I felt someone kiss me.  I quickly opened my eyes to see Jennifer, the girl who lived next door, running off.  I can still remember how that kiss tasted of apple juice.

As kids we used to love to lie on the cool grass underneath the weeping willow tree in our neighbor's yard and we would talk about all the things we would do when we grew up.

We got grass stains on our shorts (the boys seldom wore shirts), sweaty from running, as well as the typical childhood bruises and scrapes.  We caught frogs and turtles and even tried to catch wild rabbits who could easily out dart and run us in the tall grass of the woods.

Some older boys we knew built their own raft and went down a local river.  We younger boys were so jealous and full of our own dreams of Tom Sawyer on the Mississippi.  The most we could do was wade in creeks.

Nothing was organized or planned.  Our summers just unfolded before us as it happened.  We were dependent on our own imaginations to keep us busy.  And we loved it.

I also remember the dread I felt on the last night of summer, knowing that in the morning I would be starting a whole new school year.  Even before then, I would begin to feel that sense of doom when the Back-2-School commercials would come on TV.  Benjamin is the same way.  Last month, we were in Target and they already had the Back-2-School supplies out and when he saw this, he exclaimed, "Noooo!  It's not time yet!  We still have one more month!"

Me, being the silly nostalgic person I am, I tend to get a little sad as well.

Why?

Because it means another summer has passed and Benjamin is getting older.  He will be a seventh grader now.  It's funny how when you're a kid you think time is going so slow and you'll never get older, but once you do and you have your own kids, you see how time passes so quickly.  It feels like I've blinked and Benjamin's gone from being a baby to being twelve years old.  As Joni Mitchell once sang, "Cartwheels turn to car's wheels."  I cannot stop time moving forward but I can make sure that I'm not there to miss it.

(Gotta' love those swim-trunks I was wearing that looked like they'd been made from a picnic tablecloth).



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