Friday, July 02, 2010
This is not me, but my daughter, who has been busy building her own summer memories for 16 years now.
Summer comes in greens and yellows, tinged in twilight blues and vivid orange sunsets. Beach sand between our toes and in our swimsuits, and the smell of Coppertone and chlorine in our hair. Hitching a ride all the way to the beach, or taking the bus. Transistor radio turned to KMET or KROQ, loud and proud as we danced on the sand in and showed off our suntanned bodies for the lifeguards. Huntington and Seal when we were new teenagers, Newport and Sunset, Trestles and La Jolla when we were older and wiser. Concrete pavement radiating waves of oven hot shimmer as we walked, to the park, to the stables, to anywhere and everywhere we wanted to go.
Lemons and peroxide to lighten our hair, and the ever present Slip and Slide. We had to move it to my front yard after my friend across the street got grounded for ruining her mother's front lawn.
Joey Starr -my pony getting a shampoo and groom while tied out to my garage door handle. Braiding his mane and tail and being flocked by envious neighbor children. No one else could ride him after I took him out, he would throw them off and race through the streets of our small town all the way back to the stables. I wish I could have seen some of those drivers eyes widen as he came tearing across a street in front of them!
Summers on Mohave Lake, Owl's Cove, innertubes floating lazily down the river as we step sisters all kept one hand on the next innertube and so on all down the line, the other hand drinking a swiped beer from an onobservant dad. Telling stories about boys. Mish-mush (my stepsister Michelle) and Rush-mush (me) rowing the small pontoon rowboat in circles because we had no idea what we were doing, dad laughing and taping us on the old recorder we would watch later on the pulldown screen in my stepmother's house, just so he could laugh until the tears rolled again.
That last summer river trip with my brother before he killed himself. He and his young son, laughing and smiling for the ever present video camera.... never a hint of what would come that December day. The trip we took after, me and dad and Jeff's young son, trying to hold all of us together with scotch tape it seemed, and failing miserably.
When I was young, we used to get strange phone calls at our house. They were all from women, often breathless with anticipation and mostly came in the summer. They all asked "Is John at home?" my mother would say, "I'm sorry, you just missed him!" in her sultry summer voice. Her name was Pat Morrison, as was John's wife. John Wayne that is. And living where we did, women always thought they had the right number. With no caller ID back then, my mother endured many such calls, always tickled pink and mysterious in her delight.
We hitched everywhere, immortal in our youth, oblivious of the danger, or part of the adventure? The last time my friends and I hitched a ride to the beach we were frightened for weeks. We had actually planned how we would get out of the car if the strange guy who picked us up tried anything. He stopped at a 'friends' house and was acting very devious. I was in the back with one friend, and the other was in the front seat. Debby would distract him by grabbing the keys out of the ignition, Lola would grab the guy from behind and I would catch the keys Debby tossed me and open the door yelling for help as my friends got the guy in that place where men would cry for their mommies.
When I was 6 years old my daddy built me a playhouse in the back yard, complete with windows, dutch doors and belly up to the bar like partition. He got me a pink refrigerator, oven and washer dryer. Chairs and a table- all pink of course. My mom took pictures of me and my reaction as it all came together, me and my basset hound Tixie hugging and squealing in delight. My swing set and slide were in the sand area next to it. Tixie used to climb up the slide and sit under the shader up at the top barking and howling at the next door neighbors as they played in the pool. Hot summer days were stifling in the little house which later became the home of "The Silver Starrs"- future famous singing phenomenons Sheree and Rachelle.
At the other end of the swing set combo was my favorite place to run and hide- an old tire swing on a rope. I would twist that thing up so tight it wound back onto itself. Then I would climb in, one hand holding the bracing rail on the swing set, and close my eyes. Hair flying, leaning back in exhilaration I would spin until everything swirled before my eyes and I forgot anything bad. Getting off and staggering around the yard dizzy as a daisy, crash landing on the lawn I would lie there waiting for the world to stop it's merry-go-round and my tummy to stop trying to leave my body via my throat so I could do it all over again.
Black fuzzy caterpillars by the hundreds, take them home and watch them tranform into beautiful butterflies! My tiny turtles Pete and Repeat swimming with my fat goldfish named Hamburger. Tarzan, mom's water turtle living large in his own huge tank. At one time we had 4 aquariums full of different kinds of fish. Beautiful colors all schooled together over turquoise gravel.
Sure could use that tire swing now, but tis only a treasured memory now, fading as time and life march relentlessly on.............