I will never remember all the things we didn’t do this summer.
I won’t remember looking out from the top of the Eiffel tower at all those rooftops in Paris
or splashing in the ocean–Atlantic or Pacific.
I won’t remember waiting for Old Faithful to do its thing–
or feeling too tired from jet lag to appreciate that the sun was still up at 9 pm in Amsterdam.
I won’t remember that book tour I planned for a month that would take us across the country in the Subaru–or the whining about how long it was taking to get through Kansas. And I won’t remember the way my dad smells and how my baby girl once said, “Poppie left his smell in my bed,” after she had loaned him her bedroom for a visit.
I won’t remember that book tour because I cancelled it at the last minute on account of vulnerability overload and more importantly, I cancelled it because the people I planned it for–my children and husband–didn’t want to go because it sounded like too much–too long–too far.
I won’t remember the part of the book tour to Denver that I didn’t cancel–the part where we were headed up to Chautauqua to sit and stare at the view from up there and hike through grasses and clean air and to see so many stars up close. So big. I won’t remember that because I couldn’t afford to take my kids on that one vacation that I planned this summer so I cancelled it at the last minute, too. And that was just fine.
I won’t remember so much about this summer when I look back at 2015 in thirty years. But I will remember this: it was the best summer of my life. Better than the country club summers of my childhood–when my parents would drop me off at the club at eight in the morning. Our car would be almost the first in the parking lot and I’d rush down the hill alone to the pool in the silence and clock in to my leisure as if it was my job. I’d punch my card and make sure I did a very good job all day–between the swimming and flirting with the lifeguards and eating all the Captain’s Wafer crackers with thousand island dressing and spending time in the locker room and hopefully riding around on the back of my dad’s golf cart if he’d let me and then the air hockey and the Bomb Pops.
No, this summer was way better than that.
But this summer of 2015 we have done nothing. Truly nothing. We didn’t go anywhere except for that little four day trip to Sedona which is just an hour and a half north of here but feels like worlds away. But we did so much nothing together. The four of us–five if you count my mom.
What I will remember about the summer of 2015 is this:
I’ll remember my son plugged into Spotify on my iPhone, wailing on the drums– so loud–so intense and good, and I will remember hours and days of perler beads on the dining table and how we all sat nearly motionless hunting for the shades of skin-colored beads. There just aren’t enough of those. I’ll remember how we breathed and moved as one animal…to the backyard to throw baseballs in the heat, to the kitchen to find fruit, to the laundry to fold and to the floor to watch Master Chef and to watch Grace Goes to Paris and to show my kids their first Sandra Bullock movie, The Proposal, which I happen to love. And they did too. And we cussed. And we laughed. And we talked and talked and talked. And I crawled into my daughter. And we sewed matching infinity scarves for her and her American Girl doll. And we sewed pajama pants. And as he drummed, she played. And I heard their chatter. And they fell asleep in a pile in the living room without brushing teeth for so many nights. And how my husband was so very here with us. Not in school like the previous 4 years. And not yet starting his job as a therapist because of waiting for the board to issue his license. So he was just here. So very here. And it was the luckiest waiting I could have ever wanted. And how he remembered that he is an artist and he got busy making beautiful art in studio again. And how we refinished furniture.
I will most certainly not remember searching for sea glass or looking at sunsets. But I will remember us and how close we are and how much love emanates from us and how everything pales in comparison to Us. And how I didn’t care to do my work or clean my studio, although I did Marie Kondo everything else, and how much we made drawings together and how we created a brand and we designed a logo for our brand and we named our company Grateful Pops and we dreamt, the four of us, of exotic flavors of popsicles for our new family company and we even implemented our values in our products. We had a Save the Bees Honey Lavender popsicle, and we sourced our ingredients from trusted local farmers in our reverie.
And I will remember that I learned that my almost six year old daughter wasn’t afraid of big, slimy snails and in fact liked to hold them and how big her eyes were when she did. And how afraid she is of thunder. And how much she loves to laugh and if I get her to the sweet spot, I can keep her laughing for about an hour straight. And how her eyes turn up at the corners like mine. And how she flashes her smile so easily–because she is filled with so much light that it leaks out and touches everyone she meets.
And how my nine year old son is just on the verge of not being a boy–just knocking at the gate of becoming a young man–and how I’m not ready to let go just yet. And his mind and his compassion and his use of language and his goodness and kindness only grow deeper as he gets older. And how I feel his desires and sensibilities aligning more and more with his dad–as if he was his reflection–as he honors him with nonstop talk of basketball trades and baseball stats and they play video games together that I have no desire whatsoever to play but I love that they do it together. And how much he loves still to cuddle. It soothes his soul.
I will remember that we didn’t have hardly any playdates and when we did, they often were lackluster because so great was the Summer of Us.
I have never in my life done so very little in two months than I have this summer. We never even made it to the Water Park. We walked out of Minions on account of it sucking so much. We didn’t go to the Library or Museum. We didn’t spend much time with friends or even have one dinner party. We just…we just were here. Sharing. Being. Talking. Making. Reading. Watching movies. Laughing. And often, I was crying–not sad tears–just tears of gratitude and the tears of witnessing something so beautiful that you just want to bottle it and savor it and let it wash over you–because if there is a point to this human existence–then Love is it, and love is exactly what was happening in our quiet, slow, boredom of the Summer of Us. Love was happening here. And my kids, if I am very, very lucky, will not remember splashing in the ocean–Atlantic or Pacific–but they will remember the feeling of our family love and how it drips, how it swirls and pools and we lick the the last drop of the popsicle stick in our slow-motion dance. That is exactly what this Summer of Love was–it was like eating ice cream with people you love on a hot day–but it lasted for three months–that silent reverie of savoring–enjoying–being.