Summer is for the child in us. You know her – the giggling, golden imp who sleeps until ten, wakes up with her hair in a tangle and doesn’t look back on her way to the lake. Bare feet, brown shoulders and sand in her swim suit bottom, that’s her.
I’m an adult.
I do adult-speak, adult thoughts, adult action all day every day, and sometimes I think I’ve completely forgotten the language of the child. Do you remember that easy happiness? Big, belly-aching laughter, tears on your cheeks, feet kicking with sheer exuberance? The wonder found in waxing moonlight, Daddy’s Pall Malls and first kisses? The cold rush of creek water around your ankles, the whisper of ghost stories beside a campfire?
Summer beckons us backwards, calls us home.
Ah God, what heaven, to give up taxes and jobs and the tangle of relationships. To have a conversation that has nothing to do with car payments or dead people.
The child in us remembers, she knows how. If we let her out, she’ll play music on the car radio so loud your eardrums will burst. She’ll kick off her shoes, curse like Davy Jones and drink rum through a straw in a paper cup.
It’s summer! She’ll scream it before she belly-flops from the raft into the mossy green lake water. No school, no job, no bills . . . No worries.
Ah, there it is. No worries. That’s why she laughs.
And here is where we butt up against the impossibility of ever being her again. Because the adult has learned the fine art of worry and is loath to turn loose of it. Worry, it seems, is intrinsically bound up with every article in our grown-up arsenal – our spouse, our children, our house, our jobs. Our happiness?
Ah no. Draw a line. The worry could go – couldn’t it?- if we let the laughter back in, if we allow ourselves to be mesmerized by the flash of minnows in creek water or the swoop of barn swallows above the hill. It’s still summer – it’s not too late – and I propose a compromise. Give the imp just a toe in the door. A day off work, a double scoop ice cream cone, pink toenail polish from the dollar store.
Soon enough, the leaves will fall and the taxes will come due. I say, let’s laugh while we can. Let’s eat watermelon and dance in the moonlight and for a teensy window of time, just be.
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