Today I used my lunch break to run some errands. As I wheeled into the Stop & Shop parking lot (although everyone should know ShopRite has way better deals) I witnessed a moment that struck a few summertime memories. Two young girls were running towards the entrance look especially carefree and eager to find a cool treat to enjoy before spending the second half of the day by a pool somewhere. Ahhhh, to be young again.
Remember the days when nothing mattered? Literally, the only thing I was responsible for on a daily basis was wearing some sort of clothing, eating at least one meal, and not getting arrested (which wasn’t an issue in elementary and middle school, but things got a little hairy later on). Summers used to really kick ass. I mean, you wake up, eat something delicious like Lucky Charms, and then bother one of your parents to bring your somewhere fun or to a friend’s house. Everyday. Over and over. Not a care in the world. My life now, not so much.
When I was in elementary school I spent the summers in town run camps. Even though our mom was a teacher and did not have to work during the summer, I insisted on enrolling in multiple camps. They were the BEST. My favorite was Big Wheels. Each day all of the kids went to a different place (hence the reference to the big wheels on the bus that chauffeured us around). On a day like today, in the unbearable heat, we would definitely be hitting the beach. Now, as an adult, the thought of being responsible for 100+ small children make me dry heave, but back then it was pure ecstasy. Building other kids into the sand, buying 2 ft long ice pops from the snack stand. Those sure were the days.
In high school things changed because my friends and I could drive. Hours were spent each day just wasting time. Wasting time at the beach. Wasting time behind the CVS downtown. Wasting time at someone else’s house (preferably with a pool). Nothing really every happened during those summers, besides brief summer romances and the occasional haul to Misquamicut or Watch Hill beaches.
In high school, however, I was on the flag squad. I know, I know, who is on the flag squad? It sounds lame, but the benefits were great. I took a trip to Disney World with the squad and got to wear a cute spandex and gold sequenced outfits in front of all the football players. The worst part was the required band camp before school started. My only fond memory I have of those excruciatingly hot days practicing my flag twirls on the football field are of our lunch break. We had exactly one hour for lunch. At the stroke of noon every cool person at band camp (take that statement for what it is worth) shoved themselves into Jeep Cherokees (everyone had a Jeep back then) and headed to Wendy’s. I am not sure why we went to Wendy’s but that is what we did. The drive took about 10 minutes each way and there was always a line, so there were just 30 sweet minutes to enjoy of freedom and a frosty before heading back to camp. I loved their frostys. And I loved that in the band camp environment, I was pretty cool. This made for an excellent summer conclusion before heading back to the old grind.
What do I do now on hot, summer days? Sit in an air conditioned office staring at a computer screen or in a variety of meetings. At lunch, I eat my homemade sandwich (you save so much money brown-bagging it) at my desk looking at things on Craigslist. You have to consistently check it because the good stuff goes fast! Sometimes I run errands, like today. I had to pick up some apple juice for a pork dish I am making tonight. Oh, and I stopped by Pier 1 and grabbed a chair cushion to try out before committing to four of them. That is life as an adult. Grocery store deli meat sandwiches, computers, the constant hum of an air conditioner, and pre-planned dinners.
(This is the actual cushion I bought. Thoughts?)
So, when I saw those girls sprinting towards the grocery store today, I silently told them to enjoy it. Things change. Not necessarily for the better (because I love having money and going on vacations without my parents), but those carefree days of my youth are long gone. I wonder if they have summer camp for adults. I would totally be in!