Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summer Vacation

Remember how much you looked forward to Summer vacation as a kid? So many of my memories as a kid were from those three months of glorious freedom. I remember getting excited when I'd hear the ice cream truck from two blocks away, and sucking on popsicles with Chris, the boy next door. I recall climbing the big plum tree in our backyard in Oregon, and picking blackberries so that my friend Katrina's mom could bake them into a cobbler.

Summertime meant visiting my grandparents in Texas where my little sister and I spent our days swimming or making elaborate projects out of cardboard boxes, and our evenings catching fireflies and scratching chigger bites. My sister and I read so many books from the public library that the librarian must have feared they'd run out of ones we hadn't read.

Within a few years I was spending my months babysitting neighbor kids, reading Teen Beat magazine and falling in like with boys down the block. As an older teenager, summer was a never ending party: keggers and concerts out at the lake, and rafting trips down the Rogue River.

Those days. Those months. Those years. So many vivid memories. I miss summer.

And here I am, living in the summeriest place in the United States, where the thermometer hit 109 this week. So it's not that I actually miss summer. I just miss summer vacations.

For a working stiff like me in my particular job, I don't get a summer break. In fact, it's harder than ever to take any kind of break in the summer, because for me, taking a vacation means hunting down someone else not currently taking a summer vacation who would be willing to come in and do my job. For free. Someone who knows how to pronounce names like Bedrich Smetana and Christoph Willibald Gluck. So its been many many years since I've taken off more than a day or two at a time during the summer.

I was just reminiscing on all my great vacations this afternoon, and realized that since 1989 when I took off to Greece the day after graduating from college, that every trip I've taken to Europe was in September or October. Every trip to Mexico was in March or April. Every trip to Hawaii was in January or February. I haven't had a real summer vacation since I was 22.

My friend Caroline and her kids, currently on their summer vacation (lucky people!), visited earlier this week. While at the grocery store stocking up on chardonnay and cheese, we ran into A News Cafe's Editor-In-Chief while cooling off back in the dairy department, and I started complaining about how I never get a break, and how I was even having a hard time finding inspiration for my next column. And Doni, bless her heart, said, "Well Val, there's no reason you can't take a summer vacation from the Mistress of the Mix. Why don't you do that?"

And suddenly, it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. My face lit up (I'm sure it did…didn't it Doni?), and I thought of all the things I could do with my free time. I could read books. Lots of books! I could read all the book club books I never had time to finish. I could read that Stephen King book my dad got me for Christmas! I could make blackberry cobbler, and maybe go to a kegger concert, and raft down the river. So many things I could do!

And suddenly, as I held the door to the cooler open with a carton of half and half in my hand, I found that inspiration. And so, dear friends, as I embark on my first summer vacation in years - although not an actual vacation, just a short break from MOTM, I offer up one last little delight for you, because I couldn't help myself. And because there are so many great songs of summer, that you deserve a streaming Spotify playlist of summery tunes to enjoy while you (I hope) get your Summer Vacation. Feel free to share your favorite summer songs, and the songs that bring back your favorite summer memories.

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