Another Summer Like This One

Here comes
Here comes summer,
Here comes summer,
Chirping robin, budding rose.
Here comes summer,
Here comes summer,
Gentle showers, summer clothes.
Here comes summer,
Here comes summer-
Whoosh- shiver- there it goes.

Shel Silverstein

There will never be another summer like this one.

Lulu’s vocabulary had tripiled, quadrupled, quintupled in size, and she has so many words that we have stopped keeping track on the paper on the fridge.  She thinks she can swim – she cannot – and protests being held in the water.  She loves bubbles and fountains, plays hard and crashes hard, takes delight in dress ups and playing pretend.  For now, so does her sister, standing as she is on the very cusp of puberty.  By next summer, Sister and her friends may no longer play with dolls or costumes for hours.  Already, they are drawn to the electronics like moths to a flame, better with the ipad and the laptop than I am, better by far.  For now, though, they are both still children, they are both still laughing in the water and giggling in the sunshine.  For now, I am still a part of their family for a few days a week, and for now, I let their exuberant joy surround and uplift me.

There will never be another summer like this one.

I drove south to a wedding and north to camping.  I had forgotten, in the celebration and planning of both, how much I actually disliked the core experiences of a wedding and camping, (respectively, loud parties and sleeping outdoors.)  And whoever decided that either of these things should take place across a body of water to which you are obligated to travel by boat……I had forgotten that I do not really like boats.  Despite my meltdowns (which you can be damn sure nobody saw) I not only survived both, I enjoyed myself.  In my mind I can still smell the seaweed, feel the slippery rocks under my feet when my friend and I escaped the loud music and explored a secret beach, taste the marshmallows we roasted as we sat around a campfire and sang, old songs, new songs.  The singing was my favorite part.  It always is.

There will never be another summer like this one.

I was on my own – completely on my own.  I paid rent and grocery shopped and changed my sheets, I vacuumed and scrubbed the bathroom tile.  I finally got around to unpacking my very last box this week and am still missing my favorite piece of jewelery, but I do not have time to dwell on it because I need to actually make dinner and do laundry and do all of the million and one things that being an adult entails each day.  I am still homesick.  I am still having, quite frankly, a very hard time.  I did not expect it to be this hard, still, three months in, but it is, but there is nothing I can do about it.  I go to therapy and take my medication and am going through ibuprofen at an alarming rate, but I am doing it – I am living independently – and for now, this is enough, because it has to be enough.  Doesn’t it?

There will never be another summer like this one.

After a kid is four or so, they tend to wander the playground independently. By ten or eleven, many kids are by themselves or in groups independent of adults. But I watched a man watch his son and three friends, all middle-school age, his eyes tracking them from the field to the basketball court, his entire attention focused on kids who weren’t actually doing anything except goof around and play. I wondered at the intensity of his gaze, and then I realized, oh. Yeah. He’s not worried about what his kids or their friends will do, he’s worried about the white mothers, fathers and caretakers chasing their small ones at the splash pad, he is worried about someone calling the cops, he is probably quite literally scared for their lives. As am I. And I who don’t worry about turning my back on a toddler for a second or two, will never understand what it is like to more afraid than relieved when I see police. The shooting of unarmed civilians, whether by police or by other civilians, has reached unprecedented levels, and I worry.  Black lives matter.  Will this be the last summer when people say they do not?  Or will it just be the beginning of another era where people are judged only by the color of their skin, and not the content of their character?

There will never be another summer like this one.

It was the hottest on record, but that record is broken each year.  All over the globe, people seek refuge from violence, war, environmental and societal disasters.  I look at their faces as they trudge by on the news and I know that I would never be able to survive a day.  I am a spoiled, pampered person, who has never had to go without the necessities of life.  One evening without water or one day without internet sends my body into a panic even as my mind says ‘you are fine!’ It is my acute awareness of this, of how very, very lucky I am, that makes me want to minimize the more difficult things I have gone through, that makes me shudder at asking for the simplest accommodation.

I did not swim enough this summer – hike enough – live enough, laugh enough, give enough, do enough.  I will never be able to live up to my own expectations – I will never be enough in my own mind.  Who knows where I will be a year from now?  Who knows if society will even exist as we know it?  Humanity continually teeters on the edge of extinction, just as certain species and habitats are going extinct now.  I want to stop, slow down, revel in this season of warmth, but instead, my brain races ahead and around and behind, constantly worrying, struggling, constantly telling me ‘you can’t do this.’

Until the world ends, though – and for me it is not a matter of if, but until – children will play and screech with delight.  People will gather and sing the sun down.  Bodies will be sticky from sugar and sweat and sunburn.  It is, after all, just another season, just another cycle as we turn around the sun, and really, there is really nothing extraordinary about it at all.

There will never be another summer like this one.

I went to the beach.  I sat on the sand, I swam in the water.  I ate more ice cream than I have in years.  I hugged people, I held people, I held myself while I cried and cried.  It was a good summer.  It was a difficult summer.  It was my first summer, my first season, on my own, and there will never be another one like it.


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