“In the Summer Time When the Weather is High, You Can Reach Right Up and Touch the Sky…” – Mungo Jerry
San Francisco summer = fog. Chilly, windy, fog that makes me curl up and make chicken pot pie most nights to warm me up from the inside out. I’ve been longing for the hot, sweaty Chicago days doused in humidity that I grew up with. The days stretched on forever and I couldn’t believe it could still be light out at bedtime. My little kid mind was blown! What I miss most is the promise of a completely empty day waiting to be filled with play.
The options were endless. Did I ride my purple, banana seat bike in my bathing suit all day? Sprinkler hopping down the block? (That’s me above on the right – how I loved that it was okay to run around with no clothes on.) Did I relocate all of the toys from our basement out into the front yard for the fresh air I thought they needed? Or did I wait for a summer afternoon thunderstorm knowing that I would walk through the puddles with my mom when the moon came out?
The possibilities only grew in middle school – nothing planned, nothing scheduled – weeks and weeks of freedom. My favorite memories turn to spontaneous water balloon fights and Super Soaker battles with my very best friend and the boys that lived on the block.
Then camp (full disclosure: horse camp) a month of summer away from my family for the first time. It was also an all girls camp. I lived the truest possible version of myself I ever have at 10, 11, 12 and up until 16 at this tiny camp in Mazomanie, Wisconsin. I found my voice at camp and owned it like never before. The filter that was as reflexive as swallowing, measuring each and every word I uttered, was gone. My somberness gone. My worry about whether I was good enough dried up and blew away. I was who I was and that was okay. Fear, shyness, insecurity evaporated and I felt free. This freedom to play and discover let me figure out who I was at my core.
I found my voice I did. I know I did. But I manage to lose it more often now, and have never lived it as much as I did then. So I’m adding more play into my life this summer. Clearly my cube-mates at the office probably wouldn’t appreciate a spontaneous Super Soaker fight… I think it’s more about leaving a day entirely untouched, unscheduled and following my nose. Doing whatever I feel like doing, and not worrying about it. (My only rule is turning the TV off. I watch so much it must be rotting my brain.) This New York Times article on busyness underscores the importance of idleness, and it was shared on Facebook so many times that I think it’s something we’re all aching for. So go play.
Confession: I listened to Mariah Carey’s entire Daydream album while writing this post. If you were 10 when it came out it would also be one of your life anthems.