This is the time of year I start thinking of Summer. There was thunder lightning and hail. Early summer, the prelude to the real thing.
Summer was fun before I was a target. I was bullied at school but Summer meant most time was spent with family and occasional visits with cousins at my Aunt’s house. I liked to do all the Summertime things I would not dare do now because I’m an official Outcast, official Off-scouring–the ti.
It was fun hanging out at my Aunt’s eating myself sick and doing errands for her. Making burnt pancakes on her ancient stove. Playing with the neighborhood kids occasionally. Meeting a lost little kitten on my Aunt’s porch. Watching her grapes ripen and knowing my mother would want some. Her favorite food of all was Concord Grapes. It was hot at my Aunt’s but we were thin and wore shorts and tee shirts and it was sort of like camping sleeping in the small stifling bedroom that used to belong to my grandmother. There were windows way high up and it took hours to get a breeze. The big window stayed closed as it was a rough neighborhood then.
I could wear shorts before I got fat. I was actually comfortable in Summer at my parents A/C home wearing Summer clothes. Ever since I have moved out it has been one a/c less apt after another. I’m too fat to wear shorts and even feel sort of naked in capri length pants. I spend three months a year under the relentless 50mph blow of a huge fan. I do wear tank tops but now they stretch the bounds of decency because I’ve gotten large on top so now I’m paranoid about that and am wondering if I should go back to regular hot t shirts for Summer. People make fun of my attire and I’m too poor to get nice things.
I used to go swimming at the J CC, at the local High School Pool and the lake behind our house. As a child I would do dives off the diving board and might dare a forward flip. There was that little jittery feeling as I ascended the high dive and also the determination I would go off it and not climb back down to my utter humiliation. I would dive off the high dive and get water up my nose. At the lake there was not much room to swim for so many people so my mother got us floating rafts to sit in to go out on the water. I would sit and read in the raft.
As a young trip there were trips to Dairy Queen to get soft serve. I insisted on at least a Medium Cone which was huge then. It was 35 cents. Occasionally my father would let us get dipped cones. On special days we’d get to go to Baskin Robbins and I would get a double cone of the most odd flavors I could find or the most decadent chocolate flavors or one of each. I’d get daiquiri, pina colada and every other weird sherbet. A double cost, what, 79 cents? My latest forays into ice cream shops gave me nightmares with the high prices and perps everywhere,
We would go to movies and enjoy the a/c before we had a/c at home. It was a magical world in the dark eating overpriced popcorn and drinking drinks worth their weight in gold, and you didn’t want to movie to end. Now I’d be sitting in the dark with a bunch of angry perps…I do not remember the last time I went to a movie.
We would go on vacation and sleep in dive motels and eat at greasy spoons. Dad would drive too much during the day. There would be fights. It was the typical American Vacation. My classmates got trips to various Islands and resorts but we had less than they. I still remember going to the beach for the first time in San Diego and being fascinated with the seaweed on the shore, the pelicans and the cool coastal air.
I would take my sleeping bag and sleep in the backyard only to be woken at about 6:25 am under the morning clouds and the clatter of my mother’s Cottonwood tree. I’d walk inside and she’d say “good morning, how did you sleep?” Like a baby that’s what. NO pills either.
We’d go to the amusement park at night to escape the heat so we’d see the older crowd of teens and adults and not whiny babies and hot ride seats. I was grateful for that. We would stay until they closed at midnight. My mother went on all the fast rides with us girls while my dad played skee ball and fascination.
We would eat before going at an Italian restaurant. I would get a huge calzone. It was a family run place, closed now.
We’d beg for sweets at the park later.
We’d pile tired into our big old car for the drive across town to the suburbs sleepy and happy.
I have not been to an amusement park since 1990 and am not eager to go. Surrounded by people again. Perps and skits and park security. Nope.
If it stormed at night we’d go to our parents’ bed and tell them we were scared. We were told “It’s just a storm” and be told to go away. To me the great flashes of lightning and window rattling thunder and sheets of rain were the end of the world.
My mother said she saw a tornado out driving once. My childhood dream was to see a tornado. I saw one later on but it wasn’t so great. The dream was already dead.
One summer we joined a hiking club and hiked as a family. Oh those 5 am wake ups and those breakfasts on the road with the group! The beautiful forest and rocks and then crossing the tree line and eating the same whole wheat bread and cheese of everyday but it seemed a feast up there. Falling asleep on a breeze in the mountain meadow before we had to hike down….begging for ice cream in the first town we saw.
My mother’s forays for fudge in any small town we went thru on vacation…
I’d lay on my bed and listen to America’s Top 40 on my little radio with the windows wide open. I never thought I would end up like this.
The summer crickets would chirp and a breeze would float in. Life was a summer dream. The nightmare was out there waiting for me.