There's no getting around it, as long as it's a little warm and sunny, Memorial Day Weekend marks the psychological start to summer. Today, right now in fact, could be the epitome of the transition from ephemeral Spring to lolling, lingering Summer -- sunny, hot, breezy, possible thunderstorm later. Summer is the season for the young. That's when it still feels safe to believe you have all the time in the world, when long, hot days unfold like epic chapters in young lives. The beginning of summer is heavy with possibility and promise. Past a certain age, the freedom of Summer disappears. Year 'round jobs. Yards to mow. Gardens to tend. Kids' activities. Lives full of obligations and responsibilities - the exact opposite of what Summer is about when you're a kid.
So, I'm outside about a half hour ago, sweating and stinking from a day of tree-planting, garden-tending and lawn mowing. Back-and-forth, back-and-forth, vvvvvrrrrrrrrmmmmm. Mow.Mow.Mow. Get this done before tomorrow. Before it rains. Before I go to the store. Before I make dinner. Before work on Sunday.
Then movement caught my eye a few driveways down.
Kids. Boys and girls, maybe 12 or 13 years old. Six of them in shorts and teeshirts. They were playing basketball, running around gawkily in the small driveway passing the ball, taking shots, laughing. I pushed the mower along in front of me and tried not to stare at them. That used to be me. That used to be us - our neighborhood -shooting hoops, making baseball diamonds in the neighbor's back field, bonfires, swimming all day, expeditions in the creek, late nights playing Ghost-in-the-Graveyard, crushes on each other coming and going like summer storms. It felt like it would never end.
I watched those kids for a minute and felt the box of my childhood memories spill into the soup of my brain. I ached to feel like I still had all the time in the world, that summer would stretch before me like a blank slate, that my neighborhood was still filled with enough friends to make two reasonable teams at a moment's notice and just a bike-ride away. Summer used to be my season. Summer was our season. But now it's theirs and it's been theirs for a long time, I just didn't realize how much so until today. Lucky little bastards.
But then I realized I could get in my car, drive to the store, buy a bunch of cold beer and drink as much as I want without worrying about getting caught. I'm gonna do just that....
...as soon as I finish mowing the lawn and putting all the tools away before it rains.