Summer has quickly consumed us. It has insulated itself into our every thought and action. The weather, the weekend, the events over the next few months all revolve around summer. Will we have good weather? Will we get rain? Can I take vacation and get a couple of good days in without it being a washout? As the kids are out of school our actions are centered around them and keeping them entertained; camp, swimming, football and cheering practice, visits to the library and of course the ever groaning vacation trip with the famous words, “Are we there yet?”
It is too soon to say, “I am bored”. One would hope we could get a few more weeks of them sleeping until noon, eating everything they can get their hands on, playing video games, texting, and tweeting until all hours of the night before speaking those words.
I for one remember a different kind of summer; one where you went to stay with your grandparents the weekend that school let out and did not come back until the weekend before school began again. Being that they were from the old school, meaning before the days of electronics, TV, and entertaining the kids it was up to us to entertain ourselves. We found something to do on a daily basis to keep our minds from turning to gel or getting ourselves into trouble while trying not to be bored. Fortunately, for me New York was full of wonders and excitement and the possibilities were endless.
I spent hours at the museum looking at art and wondering what the artist meant when they painted such things. King Tut’s display was my favorite visiting attraction and it was fascinating to look at all the pieces, read the history of discoveries in the tombs, and ponder it all with the brain of an adolescent. The botanical gardens brought another facet of joy in itself. The Japanese gardens, the Koi ponds, and the vast array of flowers and greenery took my imagination on trips to far away lands.
Rainy days found me in the library tucked into a window and reading for hours at a time. I got lost in the books. They opened up a new world for me. Reading was my outlet, my escape from the reality of what I considered a terrible life. Ah the mind of a child, the things we thought and felt in contrast to the reality of the situation.
I loved the smell of the subway or should I say the smell of the logs in the subway; the freedom of the trains was overwhelming. One could get on and ride for hours all through the city going from borough to borough and people watch. It was a great past time but not one I would recommend for the faint at heart because there was quite the eclectic group of characters that boarded the train depending on where you happened to be. My favorite part of the city was the village. I never knew what to expect when the doors would swoosh open to accept a new load of travelers caught up in their own worlds heading to destinations unknown. There were the gypsies, the punk rockers, the yuppies, and the vagabonds. Pink hair, Mohawks, body piercings, tattoo covered bodies, vintage clothing, spiked dog collar jewelry, heels, cowboy boots, shorts, sandals, and on and on it goes. I loved to see the vast array of attire adorning these strange characters that ventured onto the train when we stopped in their world.
The park is every child’s dream world except when you suffer from motion sickness and then it becomes your worst nightmare. Nausea and I were very good friends because I did not want to be left out of the fun. Swinging, see-sawing and the merry-go-round were my arch enemies but everyone loved to ride these rides and I wanted to be part of the “in” crowd and so I would venture a ride or two only to suffer for the rest of the day. It took a few years of this before I wised up and decided that the “in” crowd did not compare to not feeling like I wanted to heave my guts with every step I took. Surprisingly, I did not miss much when I begged off riding or swinging. I was still part of the “in” crowd and I did not have to sell my soul to be included.
Although those are great memories, I saved the best for last, Saturday trips to the beach. These moments defined us as a family. It was an all day affair. We would leave at 8:00 in the morning and get back around 9:00 at night. Everyone knew that the Dunham’s were spending the day at the beach. It was a love-hate relationship. I loved to go but hated the part when it came to getting in the water until I learned how to swim. That is another story in itself. We would wake early and help Nana and Grandpa get things together. All packed we climbed in and off we went. The beach had so much to offer, there was a playground, basketball court, skating on the boardwalk, stores with trinkets, and the beach replete with sand, sand, and more sand. I could never understand how no matter how or in what we wrapped the sandwiches or covered the potato salad sand made its way into the food. As the sun set with hues of orange and purple majesty, we packed up and made our way back into the city sleep long before hitting the expressway and dreaming of the fun we had that day. What I wouldn't give for one more day at the beach with my grandmother and grandfather, ah the memories of summer.