My hair soaked from a day spent soaking up the Southern sun and cool waters of a lake nestled in the valley of two mountain ranges. My arms tired from sailing and swimming, my lips chapped from the breeze that turns into wind when the direction catches you the right way. The smell of summer and the freckles that surprise me as quickly as they disappear when the season fades.
The contrast of cotton and water against my skin, my timeless zip-up jacket that’s fit me perfectly from age ten and beyond, the holes only noticeable to strangers, not to me. The sound of my dad’s contagious laugher as he tells me the same stories, sitting on the dock, watching the fireflys and the stars compete in the contest to see who can light up the dusk with the most sweetness.
After pitchers of lemonade made by my mother with help from Splenda and the fall of night, my head rests on my dad’s shoulder and I’m comforted by the smell of Old Spice. Unlucky catching fish, as we usually are, I find myself drifting to sleep as my dad quietly hums “Goodnight My Angel” into my ear, promising me of the days I’ve yet to experience. He sings me to sleep, telling me to dream of how wonderful my life will be, how wonderful it will be in the hours I can’t see passing, or in the moments that become memories as easily as they pass by.
And it is only with the reminder of morning sun shining in my eyes, walking down Broadway toward my job as my iPod plays that old familiar tune that I’m brought back to those endless summers growing up, where my dad was my best friend, and my greatest worry was being able to play in the water from early noon to night, and if we’d walk a mile to get ice cream sundaes on Sunday nights.
I never imagined my summers changing. When we’re living in whatever section of our life we’re in, it doesn’t seem like it will ever end, though. I would never be old enough to drive the golf cart by myself , much less a car. I would never be able to steer the boat without help from someone else, or take the Jet Ski out without parental supervision. I would never find myself going years without visiting the lake house that partly built me into the woman I am today. I would never see a summer without watermelon and hot dogs, dirty feet from the Georgia clay, and hair that hasn’t been washed in days because there was no need.
But I did. I took every vehicle for many rides, independently. I’ve only visited our vacation home twice in the last three years – my New York schedule and budget just hasn’t allowed more frequency. My days are often spent inside, at a desk, without feeling much of the beautiful weather that I could never stay away out of. Bills and boyfriends, savings and benefits, student loans and internships, trips and breakups, friends and falling outs, summer jobs and summer loves, seasons and reasons – they all come and they go, some with more longer-lasting affects than others.
I’m often reminded by my friends, my editors, my parents, of my age. I’m told how much I’ll change, how there are so many things that I don’t even know that I don’t know yet. It has irritated me beyond belief for a while, but I’m starting to accept it. They aren’t condemning me because I’m not yet in the deepest part of my 20s, but just kindly warning me of all that’s to come, of all I will become. Maybe not as sweetly as my dad serenaded me under the stars, but still, I dream of how wonderful my life will be. Even more wonderful than what it is now or as it was then.