Summer, like it does for many kids, smelled like chlorine and tasted like soft serve ice cream (vanilla and chocolate swirled; we could never choose). It sounded like lifeguard whistles and chalk scraping the sidewalk. It felt exhilarating and exhausting – at the same time. It was white, like the cloudless sky closest to the sun, and it went on for a whole lot longer than any three months we’d ever experienced.
There were beaches and grandma’s pools and creeks and big, giant, still lakes and pools with water slides dumping screaming kids into them and hoses and sprinklers that would do when you couldn’t get to the beaches, grandma’s pools, creeks, big, giant, still lakes and pools with water slides dumping screaming kids into them.
There were bikes and stop signs, roller skates (and, in a few years, rollerblades) and sidewalk cracks always getting in the way. There were tents and s’mores and mosquito bites, bathing suits (so many bathing suits!) and towels that doubled as dresses and tripled as jackets and quadrupled as hats. There were dogs barking, fridges humming and Cokes popping open. Music draining out of passing cars. Big brothers scoffing at little sisters.
We swallowed watermelon, sweet corn and squishy sandwiches just as often as we did salt water and lemonade. We missed bedtimes, sunscreen applications (ouch!) and the boys in our class. We never missed dance lessons, the chance to roll down a window and homework.
It looked like sherbet-colored kickboards, green, green grass, threadbare pink sleeping bags on our best friend’s floor, the bumpy redness of a skinned knee, rainbow-colored tongues from sucking one too many Otter pops, white dandelion wisps, blowing and tickling. Used-up fireworks littering the cul-de-sac, forgotten shoes, discarded socks.
It felt like air-conditioned rooms, serious, hope-to-die-stick-a-needle-through-my-eye secrets, the pang of just missing the ice cream truck, the joy of pulling up to the roller rink (and later the mall, and later still to the house of That Boy), icy water dripping from soaking hair to warm skin, hot pavement scorching bare feet. It felt like summer.