The End of Summer

Do you remember the best summer of your life?

I’m trying hard to remember mine. When I was 16 or 17, I probably could have told you… but now that I’m double those years… it’s hard to even know which summer was which: they all blur together.

There were elementary school summers where I went over to my friends house (who lived around the corner) almost every day and played video games, ate red vines, drank coke and went swimming in his pool. We lived off Kraft macaroni and cheese and Top Ramon. I would get pissed off when I lost at Mortal Kombat or Baseball Stars and go home angry, only to call my friend twenty minutes later and return for a game of backyard basketball (I usually lost that too).

There were summers in middle school and early high school when I went to camp in the mountains. Those were “coming of age” summers, full of crushes, overcoming fears of nature and the great outdoors, finding my faith and finding my voice.

Then there were summers in late high school and early college where I traveled to South America on missions trips with my church group.  My eyes began to open to the vastness of human experience and how secluded I was in my little suburban Southern Californian town. I found my heart, my soul, and my acceptance of those different than me.

There was the summer after graduating high school, when I went to Hawaii with two of my best friends for a week of “being free” from school, my parents, relationships, everything. Just us, the ocean, the beaches, and as many resort hotel pools and spas as we could sneak in. I think we nearly died multiple times on that trip, but I made it home alive although super reluctant to start college (Jr. College).

There was the summer of 2002, after my first year of college, where I traveled to Chile (one of the most amazing trips I have ever been on), and came home to my Grandma dying, and shortly after that, my lung collapsed spontaneously, which left a scar deeper than just a physical scar. It would leave me counting my breath for years and years to come, always fearful of the possible collapse of my body. That summer burns bright in my memories.

Then there was the summer of 2004, when I worked at a summer camp with three amazing friends. I learned so much about myself that summer, about who I wanted to be, who I was becoming, and who I definitely did NOT want to be. I remember late nights of philosophy and theology over a bowl of Lucky Charms. I remember reading Siddhartha, and a New Kind of Christian – both of which really opened up my mind on religion and spirituality. I got engaged that summer, and forever tied myself to my wife. It was, looking back on it, a monumental summer.

The mid 2000’s were spent working as a Youth Pastor, planning trips, summer camps, and weekly activities and youth groups. In 2008, I led my first mission trip to Peru with a group of high schoolers. It would be my last and final summer as a Youth Pastor.

That same summer, the summer of 2008 – my wife and I moved to Portland, Oregon with our oldest (and then, only) daughter.  The old Southern Californian summers were gone now. Replaced by a completely new meaning of summer. A respite from the rain. A few short months filled with sunshine before the clouds and showers came again. In Portland, summer became a time of relaxing, traveling, refreshing… and sweating.

In 2009, we bought a home and welcomed our second daughter.

In 2010, I started my freelance web development business.

In 2011, we moved to Santa Cruz.

In 2013, we moved back to Portland.

2014, 2015, now 2016. In the books. Those three years, much of the same. The girls take a trip down to Santa Cruz to visit my wife’s parents. We do some weekend trips to the coast, we play outside, we go to the park, we try and stay cool, we play, play, play.

For my daughters, it’s their elementary school year summers… and we’re back again. Everyday they asked if they could see if they could play with our neighbor friends.

And now it comes to an end. Another summer, in the books.  They seem a little more uneventful these days (for me). That’s what happens when you work full-time. Summer just becomes months where it’s warm outside but you can’t go out and play because you are stuck inside working. It’s a little different for me, with kids and a teacher wife, so there is that end of school year / beginning of summer and then the close of summer and the start of school again. But they begin to blend into one another.

I’m looking forward to the cooler months. That’s become a thing. At the end of each summer, I welcome the cooler air, the leaves changing color, the rain settling in, and the start of a long, cold, wet Autumn/Winter.  But that coldness, that wetness is what I am used to – and what I love. It gets hard towards the end, but the summer is just the right shortness. Enough to refresh, but just long enough where you start to look forward to the changing season.

And here I am, at the end of this post. I really though it would be more reflective and deep. I guess I am losing my insightfulness to old age (and parenting). Perhaps I am deeply depressed, a combination of things that has made me lose feeling… lose perspective (save for moments here and there). Perhaps time has become a blur and it is hard to pinpoint moments of clarity and “life changing” moments. Does life change happen after you turn 30?

 

 

Fear and Trembling

I’m pretty sure I remember being a kid.  It’s fading fast every year, though.  I remember not so long ago vowing to myself that I would never forget what it was like to be a kid and a teenager, because I felt that adults never understood what it was like and therefore treated me very unfairly because of this.  I’m not sure my opinion on that has changed, but I’m also not sure I really remember exactly what it was like to be a kid and to be a teenager!

I remember being scared as a kid.  Scared of a lot of things.  Today I either blame that on my heightened imagination or all the freaky movies I watched at probably too young of an age.  Now that Amalea (my oldest daughter) is taking swim lessons, I can remember – to a pretty late age (maybe 6th grade) – always being afraid that there were sharks in the pool… in the deep end where it was dark and cloudy.  Of course there are no sharks in pools – it is silly to even think there is.  A shark would die in a pool full of chlorine, and someone would have to A) catch the shark and B) put it in the pool.  Yes, this I now know.  But when I was a kid I was CONVINCED beyond a shadow of a doubt that there in fact MUST be sharks in pools; in the shadows that you can not see.

I remember being afraid of dinosaurs.  I had a REALLY vivid dream of a T-Rex basically ripping my house apart and my family and friends with it (and maybe me too).  It was a very hellish dream (like everything was red like there were fires burning or something) and I can remember being terrified at Disneyland going on the train that went around the park because it would go through this one exhibit where there were dinosaurs… and again… I was CONVINCED that they were going to eat me. No question about it.

I was afraid of roller coasters (didn’t go on one until I was in 6th grade, when I forced myself, alone, to go on Thunder Mountain at Disneyland – the summer of 8th grade I would get a season pass to Six Flags Magic Mountain and ride Batman, Viper, and Superman over and over and over), I was afraid of going in the ocean, I was afraid snakes (ok, I still am), and I was afraid of the dark (I had glow in the dark stars, christmas lights, stereo lights, computer screens, anything to illuminate the shadows).  Even in high school, at the outdoor school where I was a counselor and had to take the 6th graders on a night hike – I was the one that was scared!  And when I was in Africa, in a little house out in the Masai Marra (where lions and leopards live) – there was no way in hell I was leaving the room I was sleeping in to use the OUTDOOR bathroom in the middle of the night!  I nearly wet my pants – I couldn’t even crack the door open and… you know… pee out the door because I was CONVINCED that there was a lion behind the door and if I even cracked it, I was a goner.

Pathetic right?

But I think what is even more pathetic than that… is the fact that sometimes I am annoyed when my 3 year old DAUGHTER is sometimes afraid.  And I might emphasize SOMETIMES. She’s actually very brave.  But somehow, I have forgotten what it was like to be CONVINCED (it didn’t matter what adults said… they were obviously wrong) that there was danger in the darkness, or dinosaurs in the country, or I was going to fly off the tracks of a roller coaster.

I need to be more patient with my daughter – more understanding and forgiving that her imagination is REAL, and INTENSE, and in a way – outside of her control.  I need to respect her fears if I am going to help her get over them.  Besides, a little bit of fear is not a bad thing… it keeps you from burning your hand on the fire – right?

So what am I scared of today?

Psychopaths. Crazy people. I mean, really crazy people – the type that would break into your house and rape your daughters and then slice your throats.  Sure, they are out there – like maybe 1 in a million – but still – keeps me up at night.  I’m not worried about myself anymore… maybe that is what becoming a parent does to you – it releases your own fears and replaces them with a whole other set of fears for your children.  I’m afraid my children will become addicted to drugs.  I’m afraid they will have an eating disorder – or run away – or be killed in an accident.  Or less grousome fears – like that my children might be depressed, or made fun of in school, or that any punk ass boy (like myself back in the day) will break their hearts one day.  These are my fears now… and I am CONVINCED – at times – they will come true.

I need to let go of these new fears.  Ride the roller coaster of life and face them.  Realize these fears DO happen – but that I can not let them handcuff me in life; terrorize me and keep me up at night.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – yeah, maybe. (-: