21 July 2011
in the middle of it.
I had this feeling the other day that we were smack in the middle of summer. I get this often mid-seasons, I think: that vaguely-panicked sense of time passed and not enjoyed enough, of all the things we meant to do and places we planned to go and people we wanted to see. And at the same time anticipation: fall is coming. Or winter. Or spring.
This year our wonderful backdoor neighors -- a family with three boys -- moved out of the state for a better work opportunity. We'd been friendly all along, but in the past year or so, as our oldest boys grew more independent (or their mothers finally noticed it), our families had gotten closer and our kids had become inseparable. They left notes and trinkets on back doors, built impossible machines from lawn chairs and garden hoses, reenacted ancient wars with a treehouse for a stage, planted seeds. It was a beautiful thing, watching the grass wear down as small feet pounded a highway over chainlink.
Growing up, I was lucky enough to live next door to my three girl cousins--all a bit older than I, which means my memories are glossed with idol-worship, but anyhow I can still remember the thrill of sneaking off to our secret world behind the shed and sharing secrets, plotting adventures. And then there was my grade school best friend and the long afternoons of charting paths through the woods behind her house. We found the rusted remains of an old milk delivery truck and invented legends to go along with it.
These long-past moments are layered, now, with memories and photos from a few weeks ago. All my midsummers flood back: too-hot days of late pregnancy with Owen, early wondrous mornings with an infant Elliott, teenage intensity of friends and band camps, college jobs and loves, childhood evenings. Fireflies in jars mingle with sweat wiped from foreheads and poolside laughs over canned beer.
And so in the end I am happy to be here, now, in the middle of whatever this is. I find my mental list and choose an item to cross off. I walk outside, in spite of the heat. I bring sheets and clothespins for forts and relax rules for a few last, treasured days--full knowing these days will be replaced by other special, though separate, moments for my kids and my friend's. Full knowing that summer gives way to fall.