Monday, July 6, 2009

In Memory of Summer

It still seems weird to me that I have to work during the summer. I hope it never stops being weird, either—I feel like the second you take that kind of stuff for granted is the second you officially become grown up, and I have Peter Pan-levels of paranoia about growing up. (I actually have a Tinkerbell tattoo on my right shoulder, which I very sincerely got when I was nineteen as a means of expressing my belief in fairies, so to speak. But everyone thinks Tink is a camel, so the message gets a bit garbled. I do believe in camels, too, but more literally, less figuratively. Ahem.)

I used to spend my summers as a kid perfecting my hopscotch game and running through fountains in Central Park. When we lived in Texas I would ride my bike down the giant hill outside our house and go on epic trips to the oddly-named water park Schlitterbahn in the back of my surrogate family, the Howells', van. When I was eleven I started spending two weeks every summer at Camp Onas in Pennsylvania, and when I was too old for that I worked at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (just steps from the spot where, over a decade later, I would get married). I only worked on Saturdays from 8-3, and my job consisted primarily of preventing six year-olds from hitting each other with shovels. I didn't know how good I had it.

I am not envious of teachers in most respects—that profession requires a saint-like temperament, not to mention an extraordinarily high annoyance threshold which I obviously do not possess. But there is something so great about a job that breaks in the summer. It keeps the dream alive! It preserves those two magical months of freedom (in New York, where the school year lasts until June's death rattle; in other states there is even MORE summer) that we grew up believing was our birthright. There will always be something wrong to me about sitting in an office (or wearing a serious expression, for that matter) in the middle of July.
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