There was one particular summer during my college years that always sticks out in my mind as my best summer ever. It was the first year I was out on my own which meant lots of responsibility and at the same time, no major responsibilities. Steve and I were dating. It was a crazy hot summer. We spent lots of time at the river, swimming upstream then floating down to the landing. I hung out with friends every minute I wasn't working one of the four jobs I had. I sported a sweet tan.
My heart and mind have compared every year since then to that one amazing year. There have been many that turned out pretty awesome, but none that made me feel as free as I did or love life as much as I did that summer.
But this summer is coming pretty close.
It's been a long time since I felt so good about where I am in life. That's not to say life hasn't been good to me or for me lately, because it certainly has and I have definitely felt good about it and grateful for it. It's difficult to put into words how this feeling is a little bit different. It's not about our social status or our economic status, or about having minimal stress or having cleared lots of clutter from our lives. And because I am married and have children and a lot more responsibilities than I did that summer *cough*fifteen*cough* years ago, the things that make me happy are now very different. Now it's all about making memories with my children. I want them to look back on this summer and remember it as one of the best summers of their lives.
Shoot, who am I kidding? I'd be happy if they remember any of their childhood summers with a hint of fondness.
I remember certain summer days of my childhood that still influence how I interact with my kids. I loved those hot summer evenings when mom would tell us to load up in the motorhome and we'd pick up Chinese takeout (back when Chinese takeout was still new and fun in our small town) or pizzas and pop (back when Pizza Hut had those drink coolers they'd refill really cheaply - or was it free? - when you brought it in. Anyone remember that?) and she would take us to the dunes on Lake Michigan where we would eat, then run out into the water and swim until dad met up with us after work. Or there were the days when mom would pack lunches and all the beach gear and we would meet her girlfriends and their children at the beach and swim and play all day.
There is nothing like the kind of exhaustion you feel after you've been in the water and sun all day long. I still love that kind of exhaustion, and I love what it does to my kids. It's like a sweet, happy fog rolls in and everybody falls swiftly into dreamland a little earlier than usual, toes still sandy and hair still damp.
That happy dreamland is calling this evening and I can't wait to get there.
Today was a good day.