It was as if nothing could ever be broken,
those summer nights when all time seemed to stop, floating on our backs in the pool, staring up at the moon, no thoughts about tomorrow or the next day or the one after that.
It was just summer. Just warmth. Just sun-kissed berries and burnt hotdogs and popsicles that dripped down our fingers before we could finish them.
They were starry-eyed summers. The months when our most important work was learning how to pitch a tent, when bedtime was determined by the setting sun, when our homes were created on the red dirt of campsites.
In the beginning, they were the water-wingie innocent days. The days when courage was learned through closing eyes and leaping off the edge of the pool, trusting that father’s arms were there, strong, ready to catch you.
They quickly became the sun-scorched days, the rebellious ‘I-don’t-need-to-wear-sunscreen-ever’ days, and thus, the ‘red-face and shoulders and tops-of-ears’ days. They were the times when sneaking out at midnight to meet your friends at the schoolyard was just about the craziest stunt we could pull.
For some of us, they became the weeks when we went out into the woods, to the cabins, to the bunk-mates and secret handshakes and camp songs that we hollered at the top of our lungs to get the attention of the boys, to let them know we could sing louder and better, of course.
They were the same weeks when mother and father realized that at some point we would be leaving the nest, that we would one day trade our camp t-shirts for college ones, friendship bracelets for engagement rings. There was sadness and excitement here, but we didn’t know it. And we won’t know it, really, until we have children of our own.
Years flew by and they turned into the months when we realized we were now responsible, or so we were told. So we picked up the ice cream scoop and donned the apron and worked to start saving for someday plans, a beater car, a night out at the movies.
If we went away for school, they became the precious days, the ones when we counted down the hours until we could eat mom’s homemade lasagna, and dad surprising us with a full tank of gas. And after a long day, we would rest our heads on our old pillows, taking in the scent of home. If only there was a way to bottle that fragrance. I would call it Deep Comfort.
Now, summer is … well, summer is changing. It’s changing again, like it always has.
Or maybe summer isn’t changing.
Maybe we’re changing.
Maybe all of us still have that desire to rush out of school on the last day of class, throw our backpacks on the ground and dance because summer has finally come.
When we hear the song of the ice cream truck, the sound of children doing cannon bombs in the pool, our little childhood selves start to squirm and giggle inside.
Then comes this beautiful moment when we want to play – the kind of playing where you build sandcastles and blow bubbles and kick the kickball so hard that you are hailed kickball king of the neighborhood.
Because when we were little, we learned that summer meant possibilities, freedom, adventure.
June sunlight finally comes and with it Hope, all fresh and tingly.
Even as we find ourselves in different places and circumstances, come summertime, we must never forget that summer is still Potential. It is still teeming with new pathways. It is still and will always be Hope.