For as long as I can remember, summertime had meant a certain doctrine of sacred activity. Cheerleading camps and Nelson Ledges and the Street Fair and the Greek Fest and driving around aimlessly after 11 pm and endless runs on the bike trail and lemon shakes and cotton candy and searching for cattle to tip over and watching the sunset at Mosquito Lake. Summers were reserved for sleeping till noon and staying out until...well, whenever we wanted. We wasted all of our gas going to see boys in different zip codes and searching for beaches off the coast of Ohio and listening to our favorite mix cds. We had little to no responsibility other than getting darker than we'd gotten the summer before. I can't help but be nostalgic about these summers, they had been my favorite way to live with my favorite people in the world for seven years running. We grew up and we spread out, but we promised that come the end of May, we'd find ourselves knee deep in blissful irresponsibility.
But for some reason or another (most likely the looming proximity of the future that you become aware of in college) I didn't find myself skinny dipping in Mosquito Lake or flashing thirteen year olds on bicycles or staying out till 5 am (not that I'd ever done any of these things, Dad). But I worked. Like a lot. Like more than I ever worked before. 8:30 to 5, five days a week. And I really loved it sometimes (when I got to show girls--just as stressed as I had been--the campus where I realized dreams can come true). I really hated it other times (usually at 6:30 am when my alarm went off or when a four year old asked me to wipe his tiny bum). It was full of schedules and structure and bank accounts and time constraints and "I can't, I have to work"s. There were several, "Let's just not go to work today"s and we always ended up going, like some fucking adults. I only had a frozen treat one goddamn time, and it was only cus I had a meltdown about buying books. I didn't attend a single dirty fair, which is infuriating because I love those bitches. I didn't spend any gas money, in fact, I think I only drove two or three times (one of which was Lori's Mustang, so it's fine). I only got to run on the bike trail once, but I tripped and fell on my face plenty of times running in Pittsburgh. It was a summer devoid of most of the things I'd grown to adore about summer.
But it was the best summer of my life.
I was knee deep in blissful irresponsibility and blue, green, and brown water in Deep Creek, the Jersey Shore, the Florida Keys, and Boca Raton. I wandered down beautiful beaches, weathered one way streets of Pittsburgh, and library shelves. I watched my mother's dear friend get married, and then her daughter, my dear friend, got engaged. I watched movies on couches with Jill and Justine and stayed up all night, all dolled up with Jill and Justine. I read a thousand feminist blogs and watched all of Orange is the New Black (which you should be watching right now if you haven't already, bitches gotsta learn). Lily told me I was her best friend in the world. Maddog 20/20, that is all. I watched baseball games in Ohio, Florida, and Pittsburgh. I swam with manatees (kind of, mostly hid behind Zach) and saw dolphins. I ate a lot of really good food and drank a lot of really good drinks. I got to spend my beautiful angel of an aunt's 40th birthday with her, in paradise. There was Led Zeppelin and yoga and bug bites and museums and a bad night at the beach shack (as if there are ever good ones). There were sunsets and rainstorms and movie days and movies in parks and movies in bed and movies at the movies. There were boat rides and airplane rides and 'beer cruises' and ADVENTURES (primarily, the journey home from Key West). And last but not least, I fell in love with my favorite person in the world.
All I can think is that, I finally know, like I suspected all along, the best years of my life are not locked away in a yearbook or in a time capsule or in the suffocating, yellowing walls of Lakeview High School.
The best years have only just begun.