When we were kids, my brother and I used to sit in the front row of the Alex Theatre. We'd pretend like we knew when the lights were dimming before the other one did, like we could make the curtain open with our will.
"It's going to open now!"
"No . . . now!"
"OK, really, it's opening . . . now!"
It's that kind of anticipation we'd also get when school let out and summer began. After nine months of structure and order, of doing what others told us to do, we were finally facing emancipation.
The freedom to sleep in so late you developed bed sores and had a hard time telling reality from dreams. Waking up each morning and wondering, "What am I going to do today?"
Swimming pool? Beach? Sandlot? Mall? Couch?
You'd leave the house with only the remotest of plans and see where the day took you. Maybe you'd end up at a friend's house who had a pool. Or the local swimming spot. The rest of the day was spent alternating between water, lounge chair and sun-warmed concrete.
Remember the sensation of the hot deck on your cold, wet back, a breeze blowing over you, making every follicle on your body light up? Your peace would soon be broken by one of your friends hopping up and down on one foot trying to get the water out of their ear.
Or a lazy day at the beach. Playing in the surf then resting on your towel, feeling your salty skin tighten as the sun evaporated the moisture off your body. You'd go home with sand in your crotch and ocean tar super-bonded to the bottom of your feet.
At least once each summer you'd get a sunburn so bad it felt like you were on fire. Simple movement became a ritual torture, and even bed was your enemy. But it always felt so good when you began to peel and your mom would scratch and pull pieces of dead skin off your back.
If we weren't in a pool, we were exploring the hills and woodlands, following deer trails or blazing our own. Sometimes we'd ride our bikes or skateboards so far away we'd have to call home to be picked up lest we not make it back in time for dinner.