Towels

I feel summer coming in the air and in my bones.

My birthday comes just days before summer starts, but I’ve never cared for it much. I’d let you have as many sticky and sweaty hot summer days, and I’ll keep my autumn light jacket weather any day.

I’ve never liked summer. Maybe I did when I was little because I’d spend summers at the pool (even though I never learned to swim) and riding my bike to that abandoned garage we would all hang out in until we got caught. I think it burned down eventually. Summer meant vacation and ice cream. It meant spending time on swing sets and inside sandboxes.

I can remember times when the music at the pool played from a black stereo, it was always on 106.7. I remember the day I was wrapping myself in a beach towel and my friend told me that she thought SpongeBob was annoying. And that was the exact moment I stopped watching SpongeBob.

I remember grabbing my towel and screaming because there was a spider crying to go for a joy ride on its orange and yellow flowers.

I remember never having to make plans because the plans were always the same: ride bike to pool or park and always ride home in time for supper. I didn’t need a cell phone, the sun told me the time and I’d be around my friends most of the day, so there was no need to text.

But as I got older and summers no longer meant season passes at the pool and instead meant putting on a name tag and clocking in time, I lived in air conditioning and became conditioned to taking out trash and washing dishes.

Now it’s internships and mission trips. I loved summer last year. It was like an Arnold Palmer, only the lemonade was fun and the iced tea was work; it was the perfect mix. Last summer started off as rough as my dry elbow skin in the winter. I wanted to be home. Until my birthday came.

I wore clothes like a camera; taking mental snapshots of the moments I didn’t want to forget. I took in deep breaths of the way-too-hot air, knowing that it would soon be gone. I tried to grab words from the air and stuff them in my mouth, swallowing hard so they would come out my fingers. I wrote less and lived more. My heart would beat while the cicadas buzzed.

And the weather got colder and I held onto things I should have let go of at the end of the summer. I moved into my dorm and you slowly moved out of my life.

When I first met him, I hated him. But he let me hack the weeds until I saw the seeds of something potentially beautiful. Even in the record-setting summer heat, it grew into something. He bought tickets to a premiere and thought I’d be excited. Instead I fell asleep. I had my eyes closed to what was happening—how I was falling, and he was stalling.

I was the rebound to help you bounce back, breathing life into the dying parts. We went to the drive-in movies and bought ice cream from the gas station, but it all melted. Because that’s what summer does—it melts you until you’re vulnerable. Rolling down your car window, you let the warmth inside.

Autumn comes and the weather cools. Throwing on sweaters and boots, I deleted your number in my phone but not in my head. I write the memories down and know that will always be a great summer. But I learned that when the weather cools down and the scenery changes, you can always open the window. And some days, the sun will still shine in.

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