Thursday, August 2, 2007

Good-bye Summer

We are headed to St. Louis tomorrow. It’s our last grab at summer fun before school starts next week. We’ll spend a day at Six Flags, do a little shopping and eat some fatty foods. I don’t think we’ll ride The Arch because the darn thing keeps losing power this summer. I have ridden in those little trams, and I do not want to be knee to scabby knee with strangers in a sticky little cubicle for a couple of hours. This long weekend is a chance for Teen Angel to have some fun with one of her best buddies who is moving to a new school. They won’t be going to high school together, and that’s tough for them to accept. In fact, Teen Angel has four friends that she’s saying so long to this summer because they’re going to different schools. She also has a close friend who lost her dad to a bad car wreck two nights ago. It’s a transitional summer for sure. That first bite of grown-up realities can leave an aftertaste that lingers.

I remember feeling really out of sorts and awkward during the summer before I started high school. Nothing felt right. I knew I wasn’t a little girl anymore, but I wasn’t very grown up either. I was leaving the comfort of a rural K-8 school where I knew every face, could predict the weekly lunch menu and had enjoyed the friendship of the same 30 kids for nine years. I didn’t know what to expect but recognized that I was entering the world of boyfriends, peer pressure and serious academics. I was insecure about my appearance. I hadn’t fully reached puberty and my boobs were the size of mosquito bites. I also couldn’t see my hands in front of my face. My eyes has gone terribly south that summer, but I was not about to tell my parents because I knew thick glasses would be the result. I didn’t know much about boys, but I knew girls in Coke bottle lenses weren’t likely to turn many heads. I said good-bye to a buddy that summer. One of my classmates moved to New Jersey, making me realize there was a world outside my little hometown and that sometimes it sucked up people around me. Would it eventually whisk me away too, I wondered. I knew I would be making new friends but fretted over whether I’d keep many of the old ones. I was a nervous wreck.

That summer flew, as they all do when you’re a kid. I spent a lot of moody days sunning and reading. I mowed yards and earned money for school clothes. When it came time to buy clothes, mama took me to a nearby department store for name brand jeans instead of hitting the jean and t-shirt racks at Finkel’s Five and Dime. I finally entered the hallowed halls of womanhood, which was exciting for about two days. Then I realized what a drag that was going to be for the next forty years. I also got a new hair cut, something a little more feminine than my tomboy bob. I picked up my class schedule and bought my school supplies. Just pens and notebooks. No Trapper Keepers or “Dukes of Hazzard” lunch boxes. By the time the first day of school rolled around, I was determined to make the most of the four years that lay ahead. I don’t remember much about some of my other summer vacations, but I do remember that particular summer. I have thought about it often this past week. When I took Teen Angel to buy school supplies and had to explain why she wouldn’t need scissors. When we talked about getting school clothes and a hair cut. When I got a phone call from my old classmate who eventually left New Jersey for Louisiana. Remember Teen Angel, good-bye isn’t always forever.

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