Covid has me reminiscing lately, feeling all of the feels. I don’t know if it’s the extra time plopped in my lap, or the abundance of time spent with my children (that are now almost grown), or the focus I’ve been putting on prioritizing my life, but it’s happening a lot. Almost every train of thought I have typically arrives at the “childhood memories” station, and stays awhile.
Right now, it’s August. Pure summertime -hot sun, big hair from humidity, and a tall glass of whatever to beat the heat. I grew up in Ohio. Long hours spent outside, abruptly ending each day at the first flicker of the street lights. We had a pool in our backyard. It was part of our daily routine for my sister and I to help take care of it. We would check the acidity levels and add chlorine, skim the pool, and help vacuum when needed. The very smell of chlorine immediately takes me back to those days of my youth. For years, we spent hours every day in that pool. Throwing weighted rings and racing to catch them underwater before they hit the bottom of the pool. The neighbors and my sister and I spent a lot of our time creating a “whirlpool” and then we’d float as the water forced us all in the same direction. We spent much of our time having “hold your breath” contests to see who could stay under the water the longest. Nothing made us laugh harder than trying to talk underwater. Simple statements like “I hate peanut butter” were heard as “I paint underwear” and became the joke of the summer. Every four years, the summer olympics would greatly inspire us and we would spend hours creating synchronized swimming routines and racing our best friends from one end of the pool to the other. The backyard pool provided hours of exercise and entertainment for our family and friends.
Without devices to tie us down, we were constantly busy and rarely inside. We weren’t comparing our summers to everyone else’s, because until school started again in the fall, we had no idea what everyone else was doing. We did what we wanted, and it was usually pretty basic. We took walks, rode bikes, and laughed until our stomachs hurt. We stayed up extra late on Saturday and watched Saturday Night Live. Netty’s was our favorite ice cream shop. My “usual” was a vanilla cone with candied nuts on top. My Dad loved their root beer floats. My Mom and sister typically chose the hot fudge topping that hardened in front of your very eyes. If we stopped for ice cream at night, we would eat our treats outside on their picnic tables as the lightning bugs lit up the sky. Memories of my childhood were sweet and simple.
But before we knew it, the song of the “back to school bugs” (cicadas) warned us that our summer days were limited. We started planning our first day of school outfits and excitedly purchasing smooth new folders and markers in primary colors. We were equally as eager to get back to school as we were hesitant to say goodbye to summer. The smell of sun screen was replaced by the smell of those rectangular pink erasers. Our swimsuits were put away and we tried on our fall jackets to see if they needed to be replaced. We covered the pool and were grateful for the past several months of fun. I was blessed to be a part of a family that treasured our time together in every season. I’m grateful today that I have these memories to call upon when I need a smile.