The images above are from my Pinterest board Summer Breeze. Click each photo to go to the individual pins.
They say the problem with drugs is that you are always chasing that first high, the rush of something new and exciting and the memory of how it made you feel. I think you can say the same thing about summer memories. If Pinterest is to be believed, you’re probably making your summer bucket list right about now, trying to cram in all the activities you associate with summer, most of those activities rooted deep down in your childhood years. That first taste of the summer drug.
I have summer memories from adulthood, for sure, most of them very much ocean-based because I moved to the beach after I graduated college. I’ll always be nostalgic for running into the ocean in Myrtle Beach with drunken abandon after the bar finally closed. And there’s nothing like watching the sun set in Big Sur or adding layers in Malibu as the chill sets in.
But for this list, let’s dig down deep. Let’s tap into those earlier summer memories.
After a full day of swimming at the lake, we’re back at the campsite. The tent’s up. The adults are grabbing beers from the cooler, quickly securing them inside koozies to keep the heat out. Campfire is going. It’s time to pull out the fireworks and watch the boys do the delicate dance of lighting, waiting to make sure the flame catches, then darting away before the inevitable BANG.
2. Hanging on the jungle gym till dark
At the elementary school a block from our house. I arrived with my best friend, the girl whose imagination matched my own and we would write books or create radio shows but not today. Today was too beautiful to be inside. Instead, we would talk and gossip and sing, all while hanging upside down on the monkey bars. Other neighborhood kids would come and go, but we staked our claim on the bars, and we didn’t leave till we knew our parents would be wondering about us.
A roadtrip to Indiana. We are staying with friends of my parents, and their backyard is enormous, lush and green and teeming with fireflies at dusk. Us kids raise around, trying to catch one with our bare hands. I secretly hope we don’t so the moment won’t end.
4. Midnight drives
Summer vacations always seemed to start in the middle of the night. Def Leppard on the radio, windows rolled down. It didn’t take long to fall asleep to the sound of “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”
5. The smell of chlorine
It’s the city pool, where I spent the majority of my time as a kid. They sold Jolly Ranchers for 10 cents and played “Hey Jude” on the regular. We took turns daring one another to jump off the tall diving board. The only time we had to get out of the pool was to pee and for adult swim, which felt like it took forever.
6. Picking mulberries
Walking with Dad to the mulberry field that wasn’t far from our house. We picked the sweet, succulent fruit till our fingers and lips were stained red, then took home our spoils. They didn’t last long. Where can a girl get some mulberries nowadays?
7. Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen
Slip-n-Slide is out. The hose is kattywampus, shooting rogue rainbows of water into the damp grass, creating pools of mud. Mom is lying on the banana chair, getting some sun. Music echoes out of the giant boombox next to her.
8. Dairy Queen ice cream
Softball game is over. Win or lose, it’s time to hit up the DQ and get a cone. It’s a rite of passage. If you choose a Mr. Misty over ice cream, we probably can’t be friends.
9. Sleeping under the stars
The family reunion is under way at a lake in East Texas. Us “cousins” (how are we really related, anyway?) set up cots outside and tuck ourselves into our sleeping bags. It is scary but exhilarating to be so free. No roof over our heads. Our tummies full of catfish and Big Red soda. Our eyes exhausted from swimming all day. We pass out before we chicken out and head back to our families’ respective tents/campers.
10. MTV music videos
Wearing a wet swimsuit, take a break from swimming by heading into the house. I shiver in the air conditioning. I quickly take comfort in a dry towel, then sit on the floor and zone out to videos on MTV. Sledgehammer.
I’m curious — what kinds of summer memories do you have from your childhood? Do you plan to pass any of them along to your own family?