21 June 2005
(and the living is easy)
today is the first day of summer. though it began for me last week when I spotted the soft flicker of the lightening bugs in our front yard just as it was starting to get dark. something happens to me when I see the first of the lightening bugs. I get all silly and giddy-like inside because I know summer is coming and I LOVE SUMMER. this is my favorite time of year. oh, summer. I forgive your steamy, stifling heat and relentless swarms of mosquitoes because you are summer and I love you.
so I saw the lightening bugs and grabbed ava from inside the house and we spent fifteen minutes chasing after them. the scent of honeysuckle was in the air (another telltale sign of the season) and I felt the corners of my mouth turn upward, could not stop the dorky grin from spreading across my face. I started to think about why I get so crazy over this time of year and my mind went in a thousand different directions. my summers have always been so unapologetically full of the most fantastic things. adventures and travels, life-changing events. all of the very best things of my life have taken place during the summertime. summer of 1985-- met nancy (my best friend in the whole wide world) at church camp. summer of 1989-- traveled and performed all over japan. summer of 1990-- met and fell madly in love with artboy ward (am resisting the urge to share deliciously steamy details here). summer of 1994-- married the love of my life. summers 1997 and 1998-- attended the american dance festival at duke university in north carolina where I spent seven hours a day studying dance and watching the best modern dance companies in the world perform (each morning began outside with african dance class, always with live drumming. these summers will forever be marked by my complete immersion in dance. it was like a dream and I loved every second of it. truly, the best times of my life). summers 2000 and 2004-- my babies were born, those beautiful persons that I thank God for every single day (even when they are making me crazy), that ava and that ezra.
historically, summers have been a good time for me-- really, a very good time.
and if all those spectacular things had not happened to me? I would like to believe that I'd still be crazy about summertime. because the strawberries? the peaches, the watermelons and the blueberries? it feels good to let the juices run down your chin. there are flowers and gardens everywhere-- daisies, cosmos and black-eyed susans to be seen! right now, there is a lavender hydrangea bush in our front yard with blooms as big as ezra's head. how can you not love that? soon, I will clip some to bring inside and the sight of them (in the midst of the everyday dirt and clutter) will make me very happy. and there are drive-in movies, cherry-flavored snow cones, yard sales (for DAYS), reasons to paint toes bright pink, impromptu road trips, swimming pools and family barbecues. I also relish the ritual shedding of the many, many layers of clothing. to wake up in the morning and throw on a fresh cotton tank top and flimsy skirt, slip on my favorite red flip flops... 'tis a joyful thing, my friends. if skin could squeal with glee, it would.
summer screams liberation and possibility. I sincerely believe that I am hard-wired to see the season through these eyes. a good deal of my childhood was spent waiting for the moment the bell would ring on the last day of school-- it was the beginning of freedom. growing up, my summers were all about exploring, creating and reading, swimming and playing, getting dirty. weeks were spent at my grandma and grandpa's house, church camp, family vacation. days and days where all you had to worry about was how you were going to spend your days. and then I was a teenager, and summer was suddenly all about boys, tans and weekends. I am remembering how my friends and I used to slather ourselves with baby oil and iodine and layout on foil mats (WHAT WERE WE THINKING) and don't you know that someone's jambox (yes, jambox) was playing prince or the cure or some such eighties tunage. see, I can't turn off that part of my brain that identifies summer with freedom and fun. well, I refuse to. summers as an adult aren't nearly as carefree now but I like to pretend that they are.
a couple of years ago when we were living in our old house on montgomery street, we took ava out for one of our night time walks. we were looking up at the moon with her when we noticed something else-- the trees surrounding our house seemed to be twinkling. it took us a couple of moments before we realized that the trees were actually filled with hundreds and hundreds of lightening bugs. we stood in silence, completely dumbstruck by the sight. it was so strange, so beautiful. it was as close to magic as it gets.
this is summer.