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?