The Summer we…. read every day in these exact same positions
We’re all supposed to be experts. Especially if we dare write now and then, and then ask people to read it, we should have asserted our expertise in something. I have acquired mastery in a few things – obviously, cream cheese based dips, Disneyland, the long-gone TV shows Alias, and wearing t-shirts. I believe the term we are looking for to describe a person with this specific skillset and knowledge base, is lifestyle expert.
As a lifestyle expert, who, like you, is looking at weeks of summer stretching out ahead, I am anxious to get started filling those long summer days with the exact stuff that will make for great memories. I want this selfishly for me and, more selfishly, for my boys so they will someday reminisce with their own kids about how much fun they had with their amazing parents, and then for those future mystery kids to say, “Wow; Grandma and Grandpa are the best.”
“Well,” you might be saying, “tell us, Lifestyle Expert…tell us how to make a summer that we’ll never forget.”
After 40 summers of in-depth field research, the solution is clear: find something – even a tepid, mildly fun something – and then do it a lot. No! It’s not about manufacturing a new adventure every day! The key is intentionally indulgent repetition.
Look back at your own summers. No matter what cool big stuff you did, I’m guessing those long warm days blur together, and the parts of the blur you remember are: popsicles, water fights, sunburns, lounging around a pool/lake/park/beach with your friends, whatever your 4th of July tradition was, and probably a regular family trip to the mountains/lake/ocean/desert/city/backyard tent.
My kids may only have relatively few summers under their mom-made-us-wear-these belts, but they already start their reminiscing about just last summer with “We always…..” and then fill in the blanks like a couple of weathered older guys sitting on a porch, talking dreamily about their (mandatory) weekly trips to the library and subsequent reading time on the couch; and trudging through the cold San Francisco fog to the damp and dreary playground, and then to the burrito place, the market, and the pet store. Even lucky enough to take a dream vacation around the East Coast, our 9-year-old never fails to bring up how what he loved most were those nights we got back to our hotel room just in time to watch “The Tonight Show.” In 30 years, he may not really remember Paul Revere’s House, but I guarantee you, he’ll remember all of us, exhausted, sore, and punchy, lying there in the hotel air conditioning watching Jimmy Fallon.
I think of my own summers, and I instantly recall running errands with my mom every Monday. We’d zip around town in our giant Chrysler Cordoba, stopping at the bank, the post office, and finally McDonald’s, where I would think about how much paperwork is required to be an adult. It was easily 100 degrees every one of those Mondays, and my skin would sizzle against the car seats, and heaven forbid, the metal seatbelts. I’m sure I was a real peach when it was time to start our weekly Monday adventures, but, little did I know, in 30 years, I would treasure those trips as well as weeknight tennis with my dad. Not Wimbledon, or Palm Springs tennis, just regular old Tuesday night tennis on the old courts by the town’s recycling center.
Happy blurs aren’t just for childhoods. I treasure the summer I discovered the white wine spritzer, and the summer my self-tanner was full of *@&%$# glitter, and those 92 mostly-summer couch dates with my husband watching “Mad Men,” and the summer I listened to the new Franz Ferdinand album over and over, and the pre-drought summer I came home from work most nights to squirt the kids with a hose, (in a very classy sophisticated way before drinking my white wine spritzer).
Let’s look ahead to Summer 2016, and come up with some possibilities for stuff you always used to do in the Summer of 2015.
Remember last summer when we….
- played Uno on the porch every night?
- ate all that watermelon?
- went to the library and checked out every one of Judy Blume’s/Beverly Cleary’s/David Sedaris’/Nora Ephron’s books? (They may not all be excellent choice’s for 9-year-olds.)
- watched every episode of _____________. I hear they’re making a movie of it. That will be great!/terrible! (The Lifestyle Expert recommends “CHiPs.” It works well, because it is hilarious, and they are making a movie of it.)
- Ate lunch in the park every weekend?
- Always rode bikes to get Slurpees? But then we had to drink them in front of the store because we are not skilled enough cyclists to hold our Slurpees and steer our bikes.
- Got really in to the Giants? (The Lifestyle Expert recommends this. The Giants are the best.)
- Learned how to do calligraphy? And then we wrote everything with our special pens all summer long, and then school started, so we had to stop and go back to boring cursive, and now I need to re-learn calligraphy.
- Cooked our way through So-and-So’s cookbook? (The Lifestyle Expert is not an expert in this area.)
- It doesn’t matter. Put whatever you want here. Put in the bank, the post office, the cracked tennis courts.
Sure, plan a grand adventure here and there, and enjoy every second of it! Big adventures are good for the soul. But, expertly speaking, make a lot of room for the nothing-special stuff too. You just don’t know how special that nothing may turn out to be.
Me, my mom, and our Chrysler Cordoba, in the summer.
17 thoughts on “how to bore yourself into having the best summer you will never forget.”
“You just don’t know how special that nothing may turn out to be.” Thank you for this poignant and bittersweet post. I lost my parents in 2009 and it is exactly these kinds of “nothing’s” I reminisce about. The clarity of those memories is actually startling!
Hi Denise – Thanks so much for reading and for your lovely note. I’m so sorry for your loss, but am so happy that you have those vivid, special, forever-memories. xoxo
Yesterday, at 2:30pm in the afternoon, a transformer blew and we were out of electricity. Matt & Charlie instinctively went to the dining room table, lit a candle just for ambiance, and played Scrabble for the next 4 hours. #unpluggedsummer
Linda! I looooooove that! We may just have to have a power outage around here. I’m sure that can be arranged. *wrings hands mischeviously. Thank you for sharing that – I can totally picture that! xoxo
Love it, Colleen! A refreshing, poignant reminder… Thank you!
Thank YOU, Carson! So much! xoxo
Today I just started my summer break, and I’m so glad I found this post. I have been thinking all month about what I should do to keep myself busy, because I hate being locked up in the house. My mother, well being my mother, won’t really take me anywhere, so I decided my thing of repetition will be blogging and trying to get a good amount of traffic. As a new blogger, I struggle finding many readers, but every time I get a comment, follow, or like, it helps me push myself forward. This was definitely a great post! I hope your blog continues to grow! Keep up the hard work!
Thank you for reading, and for your nice note! I started my blog in the summer too a few years ago, otherwise known as “the summer I started my blog.” 🙂 Keep going! And make sure to relax and enjoy it as well!
You’re welcome and thanks I’ll make sure to keep that in mind!
So happy to see this! I always look forward to your posts, you make my heart smile, lady!
Wow, thank you my dear! You made ME smile! xoxo
I love this. So true, how we stress over what we’re going to do with the kids all summer, when really, we don’t have to do much. You are such a great writer, Colleen! I must now follow your blog.
Thank you Stephenie! For reading and for your VERY nice note! Hopefully we can get together and do some nothing this summer! xoxo
I just re-read your latest Chronicle and began to think about my summer activities as I grew up in Sacramento. I can relate to your trips in the hot car, but most of all, I am enjoying trying to decide what my own daughters would say was their favorite summer activity. You always stimulate my thinking, Colleen.
Thank you For your note Cathy! That really means a lot to me. And I love that you can relate to that hot Sacramento car. Xoxo
You said it so well. What a talent you have for expressing yourself. Made me think of some wonderful memories my parents planned although it didn’t occur to be that at the time. I hope you have a fun, memorable summer. Love, bev
Thank you so so much Bev!! I really appreciate your sweet note! xoxo