Summer is upon us. Summer. Oh, what a glorious word! Even though I am an old woman of 46, I can still well remember the bliss that was waking up the first day of summer vacation and the enormous sense of relief when the thought bloomed: I have no homework. None. Zip. Nada. For like, ever.
Or it might as well have been forever. Because, come on? That fateful day in late August when the larnin’ all begins again? A million miles away. At least a million. Maybe more. Who can tell? The calendar no longer holds any meaning. Days of the week blur together in a wash of sun-drenched hues.
What do I wish for you, oh children of summertime? It’s pretty simple, really.
I wish you a summer like I had when I was a kid.
I wish you long days full of heat and cicadas and fireflies and sun and stars. Long draughts of root beer with vanilla ice cream floating in the midst of it.
I wish you watermelon, cut into slices that you hold by the rind in your hand over the green lawn, letting the juice drip down your chin and all the way to your elbows, taking turns seeing who can spit the seeds the farthest.
I wish you chases and games of tag and skinned knees so you can pick the scabs later when you are bored and your mom is too busy to drive you to the mall.
I wish you trips to the library, air redolent with ink-saturated pages, hundreds and thousands of worlds to visit with the turn of one page; vibrant covers that entice and draw you in to places far beyond your small experiences, stories that enrich and light fires within your breasts. I wish you flashlight-reading under the covers of your bed, in tents out on the grass, and at sleepovers when everyone else has succumbed to the sandman already but you…you’ve got to read just one. more. page.
I wish you swimming. I wish you jumping for the first time off the high dive, dizzying heights and staggering limits, freefalling into the sparkling blue water and making the biggest splash possible with your small body. I wish you the clean exhaustion that comes from being out in the sun and in the chlorine-scented water, the feeling of satisfaction from pushing your body and your courage to its limits.
I wish you bike rides and tennis matches, roller-skating forays and hopscotch battles drawn with chalk lines over the uneven surface of the sidewalk.
I wish you boredom, and the challenge that it brings your numbed imaginations to come up with something new yet again to do. I wish for your parents to not feel the need to fill your every waking second with activity, so that you are forced to stare into empty space for just a while and fathom something deeper than yourselves.
I wish you fishing. I wish you worms on hooks and thrashing trout and sunfish and crappie on the end of your line. I wish you someone to help you get them off in case you are squeamish. I wish you the feel of cold scales in your hand and the joy of releasing them back into the water you drew them from. Or, if you prefer, the taste of fresh fish you caught yourself fried in a pan with butter and breadcrumbs.
I wish you freedom, just a hair more than you were given last summer. After all, you are one year older. I wish you shenanigans. I wish you just a small amount of trouble that never gets found out, that remains the secret between you and your very best friends forever and ever.
I wish you movies with lines that wrap around the block in anticipation. I wish you darkened theaters and popcorn and previews and gasps of surprise and jumps of alarm and giggles of excitement and all the things that the torn ticket represents.
I wish you relatives, plenty of relatives to visit and to come visiting. I wish you grandparents and aunts and uncles that put you on your best behavior and then relieve you with a wink. I wish you trips in the car with the steady thump-thump of the highway below you as you play the alphabet game and license plate bingo. I wish you lots of time at the kids’ table with cousins that make you laugh until milk comes out your nose.
I wish you siblings, and friends. I wish you people to fight with and hang out with and imagine with and dream with and laugh with and cry with.
I wish you memories. So many memories. I wish you plenty of time in the long, sun drenched days to come to make your own.