I’m always excited about the first days of summer when sunsets linger and the night becomes an extension of the day. But, the heat, when it is at its hottest, is relentless and exhausting. It sinks beneath my skin and into my bones reminding me of what was.
The slap-slapping of flip-flops, toes curling into the sand, cool water over sun drenched skin…the sounds and sighs of summer. I miss them.
When the summer unleashes its full force on us it takes my breath away with its memories. After all this time I’m still sucker-punched-in-the gut-I-can’t-believe-I’ll-never-know-this-again, the scars too great to see too much sunlight, my legs always encased in silicone, plastic and metal. The sun has become more of an enemy than something I couldn’t wait to bathe in. Summer was my favorite season filled with hours at the lake, reading until the words blurred together, adjusting my bathing suit straps for minimal tan lines. My year began in the fall, not in January. Summer was my chance to shed the worries and mistakes of the past year and live carefree for a few months until I got to start over.
In the wake of June 12, 1998 the summer was cruel to me, a joke. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I couldn’t wear what I wanted to wear. It was unbearable to see girls my age toes wiggling, skin exposed, flipping their hair, and complaining about the heat. God, I wanted what they had. I ached to have a toenail painted, to know smooth skin again. If I could just feel the stones under my feet as I waded through the lake one more time…
Today, you couldn’t pick me out in a crowd. I might be more covered up than some. I would look as though I was sun-conscious worried about overexposure. Everybody’s concerned about the sun’s harmful rays now. You might notice my arms are scarred or that I have a small scar on my chin, but you wouldn’t think I was too out of the ordinary. My shoulders aren’t hunched, wallowing. There is little sign of loss. I’m at the park or the beach herding my kids like every other parent out there, telling them to stop that or shouting good job as they swing from wrung to wrung on the monkey bars. I’m dressed for work, in line at Starbucks, picking up my coffee. I’m having a raspberry margarita with friends or shopping, gasping at some cute top.
I want to rush through the summer. I want to sprint ahead and get it over with. To get to my beloved fall, my favorite season by default. But, I need to give summer its due. It was the season of my rebirth. One beautiful summer evening my life ended as I knew it and another began. I was not stripped of my will. Nobody claimed my soul. It was still my life to do with as I wished. I fought for what was mine. The summer may be bittersweet, but I’m here. I’m rich in choices and family, alive with the knowledge of many summers ahead of me. I can take the heat, relentless in strength and memories, if I’ve got that.
My friends and I went shopping at the outlets in the States and stopped in Fairhaven, Washington for dinner. I used to come here a lot and have found it hasn’t changed much over the years. It’s even cuter than I remember it. Unfortunately, there is not one good photo to be found to do this sweet, quaint village justice. I scoured their website and found this: Every Saturday evening June 20 through the end of August, Fairhaven offers live music and entertainment followed by a feature-length movie on the Village Green screen. Isn’t that adorable?