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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
30 Rock


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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Write Back Weekend "Summer, Summer, Summertime"

If there's one thing I've noticed about summer it's that everyone seems the start of summer differently.

For some it's Memorial Day weekend. This is the weekend that marks the beginning of wearing white, eating barbeque and getting random sunburns. I have a hard time with picking this weekend only because I know I still have another month of teaching and while I'm teaching, I can't quite see it as summer just yet.

For others, the official kickoff of summer starts once school ends. No more school means a break from the norm and what is summer if it isn't relaxing? That being said, it all depends on when school actually ends. Some people end as early as May, others start up again in early August.

But for me, I've always looked at it like this. Once 4th of July has come and gone, I can say that we are officially into the thick of summer. This is because 4th of July is known as THE summer holiday, just as Labor Day tells you to pack up your short shorts and bid adieu to your summer lovin'.

Yet just as 4th of July is symbolic, (now in more ways than one) it also seems that once the 4th hits, the summer seems to fly by. Already it is the 8th, 7-7-07 already a date of the past. A month from now I'll begin to think about getting things ready to go back to school. I know that it's a bit premature to always be one step ahead but I can't help it. It's the impatient side of me that rears its ugly head.Still although summer always seems to go by too fast, that doesn't mean I don't have some strong summer memories to hold on to.

When I was a kid, I spent most summers with my family "down at the shore" as us NJ natives tend to put it. We often would go to my aunt and uncle's house who, at the time, owned in a town called Surf City. Looking back on it the car ride seemed so long. It was so odd too because we almost always heard the song (Going To)Surf City by Jan and Dean on the way down.

Once in Surf City we'd usually stay the week and hit the beach and the bay. I always preferred the bay, even back then, because it was easier to swim in then the rough waters of the ocean. I did, however, love jumping the waves with my dad. The best was the sensation you'd get at night when going to sleep if you did it right, still feeling the rush of the water as you avoided the tide. I got the same feeling from going down a water slide over and over, another summer memory. Nothing can beat it.

When I think of summers in Surf City I also think of trampolines. This was the days before lawsuits were a dime a dozen. There was a trampoline park set up, with about eight or so trampolines. Kids would wait in line for their five minutes of fame. I can still hear them calling Janet B as I jumped and twirled as high as I could in the air. The rest of the summer games we'd play back home, in the cul-de-sacs of our local streets. Things like Manhunt, Red Rover and kickball were big back then, as was getting ready for the annual Block Party in the development. My friends and I would manage to develop a dance routine every year. One year we choreographed one to Madonna's "Burning Up", another year we did Samantha Fox's "Naughty Girls Need Love, Too". Of course no one ever saw it. We never did get the courage up to actually perform it in front of other people. We did however, manage to muster the courage to have dance contests in the basements of each other's houses where everyone from the neighborhood would come. We definitely wore out the soundtrack to Flashdance, as well as Police's Synchronicity and Prince's When Doves Cry.

When we weren't at Surf City we were at nearby Long Beach Island or Wildwood. What was great about all of these towns was the quintessential summer pasttime, the boardwalk. I loved the people watching and the combination of smells that would come from walking the pier. In fact, I still do. There is a weird mix of romanticism, hope and nostalgia that washes over me when I walk the boardwalk. That and checkingout whatever trend was big that year like Who Shot Jr? t-shirts or jelly shoes in every color.

And how can you recall the summers at the beach without remembering the awesome food? I don't know what it is about summer, but so many meals just seem to taste better, outside, especially when eaten by the water. In fact, if it comes from the water, like fresh lobster, that's all the better, although I've also been known to indulge in thick boardwalk fries, classic Italian ices and messy funnel cake. Salt Water Taffy and colorful fudge round out the reasons to journey to the shore.

When I became a teenager, the shore took on a different meaning to me. Suddenly there was a pressure with going to the boardwalk. A lot of my friends went with the hopes they'd meet a guy or go with that special someone, already in tow. I was too shy for any of that, but that didn't mean I didn't tag along. Wherever I went I had to be sure though to watch the tram car, please.

In my early twenties those feelings only further intensified. Suddenly I was old enough to drink. No longer was a night of just walking the boardwalk enough for most of my friends. A lot of them liked to walk the boardwalk as a primer, getting ready to hit the local clubs soon after. One of my closest friends and her family owned a house in Sea Isle City at this time. We spent many weeks in the summer there, working on our tans (or lack thereof, in my case) and then spending hours primping to go out and impress. I liked being one of the girls, but the whole getting ready to mingle scene wasn't for me at all. I guess you could say I'm writing about it here because it's such a vivid summer memory, but at the same time, it's also one part of summer I'm glad that is behind me now.

Now summer has taken on a different tone. I still love many of the same elements I once did, but it's now the same now. Most of those same friends I'd dance and drink with have gone on and gotten married, beginning families of their own. Nowadays summers mean catching up with old friends and recharging the batteries before returning to school in September. Some things have remained the same though. I still love the water, the boardwalk and the innocence that the summer seems to bring. Summertime and Christmastime have this in common. These are the only two times of the year that manage to keep me both happy and sad, in equal proportions. Maybe it will always be that way.



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