Things To Do This Summer

Even though summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21, Memorial Day Weekend always seems like the mutually-agreed-upon kickoff of the summer season. After this God-awful winter, it couldn’t have gotten here soon enough.

Summer has always been a season for children, who’ve been freed from desks and tests, looseleaf paper and index cards. They sleep late and eat ice pops for dinner, and run around with jars full of fireflies and not-completely-rubbed-in streaks of sunscreen on their cheeks. They laugh. They shriek. They enjoy and embody everything that’s right and true about this glorious, cicada-rhythm-ed time of year. They devour summer.

But what about me? What about the wild and beautiful little girl I once was, who untangled herself from the restraints of Catholic school ties and saddle shoes, whooped and jump-roped and Big-wheeled on city streets, scraped her knees on cement and burned the backs of her thighs on metal city playground slides, and who gulped down every quenching sip of summer?

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What about the wild and beautiful woman I am now, who still yearns for such days?

Summer hasn’t left me yet. I hope it never does. Here’s my ongoing summer life list, to be completed at my whim, and in any order I so choose. Maybe it will inspire you to devour summer, too.

Things To Do This Summer

  1. Buy myself a Martin acoustic guitar. Maybe even an acoustic-electric. Take lessons again. Practice. Sing out loud.
  2. Take drum lessons, too. Enough talk. I’ve got the mania of Moonie and the quirky backbeat of Levon in my little-girl soul. My sexy-girl soul, too. What a joyful noise I could make. Between the hours of 12 and 5 pm, of course, dear neighbors. Promise.
  3. Hang up the hammock between those two tall evergreens in my backyard. Nap. Invite my children to nap with me. Whisper to them to look up and notice the intricate weavings of tree branches above our heads. Marvel.
  4. Wear my silk robe. And nothing underneath. At least while the kids are out of the house with their friends.
  5. Sleep naked. Stop worrying about the kids waking up before I do.
  6. Wear nothing at all in the house while the kids are at sleepaway camp for three weeks. Nuh. Thing. Yes, there’s a pattern here. Get over it.
  7. Read. All the time. Until I fall asleep in chairs and on couches and upon pillows.
  8. Wake my son by softly scratching his back or stroking his forehead, instead of rushing and bellowing as I have on so many school mornings. His mood is so much more pleasant when he starts the day gently. And he’s only this little for so long. This morning, I sat at his bedside and whispered his name and stroked his sweet, sweaty head until he awoke. Eyes closed, smiling, stretching, he whispered “good morning” and held my hand for a minute until he had cognizance of his grumbling stomach. The boy kills me.
  9. Stay with my daughter for a few minutes more, after I tuck her into bed. There’s more that she needs to tell me. And she needs a little more time to share it with me. Just listen longer, momma.
  10. Throw a ton of shit out. A shit-ton of shit. Don’t need it, can’t use it, give it away.
  11.  Summarize the treatment for the story idea in my head. Stop complaining to people that I don’t have any time. Bullshit. I do.
  12. Lower my expectations — of friends who fall short and hurt my feelings, small kitchen appliances that burn out, plans that unravel or change, and words that don’t flow easily from me at times when I need them to. Mostly, of myself.
  13. Spend less time on Facebook and more time on my writing.
  14. Delight at the newfound ease of packing minimally for an afternoon at our local swimming hole, now that my children are older and require much less sherpa-like behavior on my part. Meet friends at said watering hole for sandy dinner and laugh. Watch the sky fade into pink streaks as my children dive and shriek and play made-up games in the water and on the sand.
  15. Volunteer with my children.
  16. Walk into town with my kids several times a week. No car, no rushing. Just talking. Stopping to pet dogs. And buy Italian ices. And sit on benches and watch the world move past us.
  17. Get to know the town library again.
  18. Walk into town with my husband for a drink. Linger on outdoor patios at small restaurants, and embrace the sensuality of warm nights and chilled wine and bare legs and spaghetti straps slipping from my shoulders.
  19. Use my front porch more often. For reading and laughing and daydreaming.
  20. Run all summer. Hold onto the hard work of half-marathon training that I pursued for the past several months.
  21. Think better of myself.
  22. Watch old movies on rainy mornings with my kids.
  23. Sit on Sunday morning and read the paper. Hand sections to my children and tell them to read it, too.
  24. Watch the evening news with my kids, and discuss it afterwards.
  25. Go for morning walks with my girlfriends. And my dog.
  26. Blast music out of my open car window while I drive.
  27. Braid my daughter’s hair. And let her braid mine.
  28. Wear pigtails. I love myself even more in pigtails. If you never had long hair, and if you weren’t a little girl earlier in your life — you just can’t understand.
  29. Finish the A to Z photo project I started a while ago with my kids. And never finished.
  30. Get to the Rockaways once this summer with my kids.
  31. Take the kids to an outdoor concert.
  32. Dive off a diving board. At least cannonball. Something.
  33. Stay open to new friends. The circle only gets smaller if you choose to live that way. Let people in.
  34. Bike the Ashokan Reservoir.
  35. Take day trips to forgotten places.
  36. Write every day. Something. Anything. Ass in chair.
  37. Make out with my husband on the couch for a few minutes.
  38. Take pictures. Encourage my children to take pictures, too.
  39. Spend some time in Brooklyn.
  40. Spend some time in Manhattan.
  41. Spend some time in small Catskill towns.
  42. Go to a yoga studio for their evening meditation sessions. Lie still. Let the tears flow or let the giggles rise up.
  43. Go on a weekend retreat with my husband while the kids are at camp. Express gratitude for this man who quietly pursues spirituality and personal growth alongside me, each of us looking — not at each other, but outward in the same direction.
  44. Use up all the sparklers we have in the junk drawer. All of them.
  45. Make icebox something. Not sure what. Something chilled and sweet and decadent.
  46. Go to a drive-in movie.
  47. Eat more peaches.
  48. Stop by a county fair or church carnival. Stop worrying about the safety of rickety rides.
  49. Take my boy to the Hayden Planetarium, because he’s begging to go.
  50. Make homemade lemonade. And sun tea.
  51. Camp out in the backyard.
  52. Go to Coney Island and attend a Cyclones game.
  53. Renew my passport. Because you never know.
  54. Get to Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, and eat a big-ass hot dog.
  55. Drink prosecco and champagne on weeknights. Float raspberries on top.
  56. Ask for more massages. Be healed.
  57. Climb into my husband’s lap more often. Stay there.
  58. Eat more mangoes.
  59. Wear my straw cowboy hat without giving a fuck. I’m Irish. I need shade.
  60. Slather myself in coconut oil all summer.
  61. Let my hair air-dry on summer mornings.
  62. Go to Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn and visit my ancestors’ graves.
  63. Get to Nathan’s to eat a big-ass hot dog, and decide that it’s better than Rutt’s Hut. Order the fries, just to compare as well.
  64. Eat more watermelon.
  65. Stop taking things so personally.
  66. Part my hair down the middle and wear that hippie hairstyle I always feel too self-conscious to try out.
  67. Go to the Woodstock festival site with my kids. Lie down and feel the earth there.
  68. Fall asleep in the daybed swing at our house upstate.
  69. Climb into the kids’ treehouse with my babies. And later, with my husband.
  70. Clean out the office area in our basement and make it a beautiful, quirky, vibrant place for me to write. I’m visual, like a guy that way. Need to see things to be inspired. See Hamm Spam Friday.
  71. Frame photographs and give them away.
  72. Care deeply. Care less.
  73. Take many pictures of my children, and of the children in our neighborhood. So big, so fast. So beautiful.
  74. Celebrate my August birthday all month.
  75. Write a longhand letter to someone I love.
  76. Wear more sundresses.
  77. Wear cheap bangles that announce my arrival before I enter a room.
  78. Teach my daughter to embrace the power of her femininity by embracing mine. Teach my son to embrace his, as well.
  79. Go to flea markets. Encourage my son’s fascination with old keys, and my daughter’s love of vinyl LPs.
  80. Buy an old turntable and speaker set-up. Fall asleep listening to my records, while stretched out on the floor.
  81. Use the wedding china for my birthday and brunch and Thursday night dinner.
  82. Take a knitting class.
  83. Find the right shade of red lipstick for my skin tone.
  84. Make orange juice ice pops. My kids’ favorite.
  85. Make alcoholic ice pops, too.
  86. Dance. Fast with my kids, like we love to. Slow with my husband. Alone, like Jennifer Beals, bitches.
  87. Ride my bike.
  88. Read a Judy Blume book with my son.
  89. Wear the pookah beads that my Uncle John bought for me in Hawaii in 1974 while he was stationed there in the Navy.
  90. Take my father to lunch.
  91. Take some girlfriends into the city and drink a little too much.
  92. Eat dinner on our screened porch.
  93. Love myself more. Treat myself better. Be gentler with myself.
  94. Take more risks — even when I fail and it hurts.
  95. Live like I don’t have all summer. Live like summer is never ending. Live, for fuck’s sake. Just live — wild and beautiful girl.
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