As we make the transition from spring into the long, hot days of summer, it’s a bittersweet change for some.
In Texas, it means scorching temperatures (think: 110°F; or 43°C) with pools and stagnant lake water as our only respite. Being a Floridian, I’m not really a lake person. The entire process evades me! So, you go and sit on a rock—and stare at other half-naked people who are also sitting on rocks? Are you kidding?
People in my hometown in the Florida panhandle enter summer with mixed feelings as well; here come the tourists, the snowbirds, the crowds. UGH.
While those in the land of the ice and snow (thank you, Led Zeppelin for this wonderful lyric from the Immigrant Song) are grateful for temperatures that finally enable them to wear shorts and a tee.
I’ve learned some valuable lessons this year. That the past mostly belongs in the past for a reason; but then, contrarily, that there are relationships from the past that are worth reviving. On mother’s day (May 8th this year, also my birthday), my husband surprised me with a trip to Niceville / Fort Walton Beach to stay with my best friend Kathy and her family. It was truly amazing.
My daughter, now eight years old, said to me about a month ago: “You got to live in all of these amazing places! You had such a cool childhood! I’ll never have that,” with a pouty face, of course.
“Nikki, you are lucky. You’ve no idea what I would’ve given to be able to have stayed in the same place. There are pros and cons to both types of lives, transient and non-transient, but what we can come out of my childhood with are the stories and memories, good and bad, and learn lessons from them while continuing to live in the now.”
But if I’m totally honest, I don’t always let myself “live in the now.” As I’ve said before, there are times when I’m perpetually living my life driving forward, but looking in the rearview mirror the entire time, mourning the sale of this house or that one, the move from Florida to wherever, the move back to Florida, my days in the German countryside building snowmen, and my days at Langley AFB as a toddler, waiting on the tarmac for my dad, who was landing his F-15C and coming home from deployment.
“You’re always bragging. Like I’m not as good as you because I grew up living a ‘civilian’ life,” I’ve been told.
Never. Not at all. I never mean to come across that way, EVER. All I ever try to say is that it’s hard for kids like me to feel complete as adults; we always feel like there’s something missing. Like we’ve left so many things behind or so many tasks unfinished. We have difficulty with our sense of self; or what defines us as a person, because unless we had siblings, there aren’t very many people who led the life we did as children.
This brings me to our June theme, chosen my contributor Chris Iacono: First Love.
It resonates within each one of us in a different way. Whether it reminds you of the agony of unrequited love, a rocky relationship that’s in the past for a reason, or the doe-eyed sappiness that emanated from you while you were entranced in the haze of falling in love for that first time, these emotions and memories are powerful. They spur creativity more than any other emotion or state-of-being! How many songs are about love? How many books were written right after a break-up or a tearful goodbye? What about crimes of passion? I mean, my God, there are so many paintings, works of art, sculptures, beautiful music and beautiful writing that all share one thing in common: love. They may be vastly different in their presentation, but they are connected by that bond. Love can transcend societal norms, borders, distance, time, among many other things. Love also comes in many, many different forms: unconditional love for your family, love for a best friend, the love you have for your husband, wife, girlfriend or boyfriend; the love you have for your parents. In the book and film The Member of the Wedding, a young girl falls in love with the idea of love. She falls in love with the couple who are to be married.
I can’t wait to share with you the works that have been sent in for June; I know (and hope) you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I have.
Kelly Fitzharris Coody
*Featured photo courtesy of contributor Brian Michael Barbeito*