4.16.2015

Summer Friends

Aaah, summer- that long anticipated stretch of lazy, lingering days, free of responsibility and rife with possibility. It's a time to hunt for insects, master handstands, practice swimming strokes, conquer trees, explore nooks and carannies, and make new friends. -Darell Hammond

I have always loved summer, and I still love summer. I think there's a reason so many of the best books and movies take place during the warm months. There is a glowing feeling in the air that radiates both rest, and adventure. I can't get enough of it.

There is something particular about friendships that grow during those three months. The long days and nights  whisper invitations to explore, to wander, to adventure. Silliness and authenticity intersect and create a beautiful, rich kinship.

A lot of relationships are built around a common activity, something you both enjoy that keeps you busy, saving you from empty silence. it's a landmark when you reach a point in a friendship where you can sit in comfortable quietness. In the summertime, however, relationships are built on doing nothing together. On enjoying freedom together. On waking up on a sunny day having no idea what you are going to do, but certain of who you will do it with.

Summer friends are a special kind of friend.

When I think of summer friends, many treasured memories come to mind. But one summer, and one friendship, stands out to me as one that truly captured the essence of summer friends.



It was between my freshman and sophomore year of high school. Things at home were changing as my sister got ready to head to college, I had my first boyfriend, and I was still figuring out who I wanted to be in high school.  It was a time of transition that could get a little overwhelming if I thought about it too much. But I didn't spend June, July, and August worrying about it- I spent it with my summer friends.

We were an unlikely trio, really. All different ages, two different schools, two guys and one girl, not a ton of mutual friends. But the summer put us together, and it was one I'll never forget.

We got together most days after lunch. I'd get a text that would say "pool party?' or "wanna jam?" and then walk the half mile from my house. One of the guys had an above ground pool at his house, and we'd usually go there to hang out.

 Sometimes it wasn't warm enough to swim yet, and we'd play music. Our friend had all sorts of instruments. We would collaborate on songs we had written and put my poems to music. Sometimes we played thoughtful folk songs, sometimes we put a beat on the keyboard and made up bizarre raps about potatoes.
When we got in the pool, we played a ridiculous game where one person closed their eyes and reached out, trying to find two people hidden by floaties. We'd splash the seeker and cheat by hopping out of the pool. we'd try to climb and balance on mats at the same time, we'd make whirlpools.

We'd usually go back to our respective homes for dinner, then we'd reunite later on. More jamming would commence, maybe we'd walk to the park, sometimes there was a late night Taco Bell run. The other guy's family had a hot tub, where we would spend the evening. In our small town neighborhood, we could look up and see the stars. when we got too hot we would walk back over to the yard with the pool and dare each other to jump in. Shivering, we'd run back to the hot tub, laughing at our squeaking shoes.

But whatever we were doing, we would eventually fall into a place where we would put down the instruments, the games would come to a lull, and we would just enjoy the nothingness together. There was a remarkable permission between us: permission to be completely ourselves, to be creative, to express what was within us.

A picture taken by my friend of me at the pool that summer

We remained close while we all lived in the same town, but of course, just like Summer drifts to Fall, things changed as we became close to different friends, pursued different interests, and moved to different places.

I have a hard time understanding and accepting that friendships change. If someone was my dearest friend for a given time, why shouldn't we be close forever? How can we go from talking everyday to talking once a year? I'm learning that even if we don't keep in touch, that doesn't make the friendship any less. It was beautiful because of the time we had together, and that beauty lives on.

 Although we haven't kept in touch real well, these friends will always represent to me what that summer did. They came to my wedding, and sharing hugs with them that day was so meaningful. When I think about best friends, what comes to mind first is girls I shared clothes, sleepovers and secrets with. But when I really think about it, I think that my summer friends, too, were some of the best friends I've ever had.

 I think that every summer teaches us something about ourselves. Maybe summer friends are special because they have a unique opportunity to be part of that learning.

My two summer friends taught me that being creative and expressive was cool. That it was okay and good to be silly. They challenged me with good questions. They made me laugh. They taught me that the best people to be friends with aren't necessarily those who are similar to you, but those who are kind and let you be yourself.




Here's to memories and stories of summer friends: past, present, and future.





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1 comment:

Hazel Moon said...

What a wonderful memory of a time of good clean fun with special friends. Even though the connection did not continue, that summer will always remain as a precious time. Thank you for sharing here at Tell me a Story.