An old friend

I really haven’t minded growing up.

Sure passing through the different stages of my still-somewhat-brief life has meant giving up the freedom and innocence that childhood offers. But the exchange rate in the world of adulthood is one I have found worth the trade. Well, mostly worth the trade.

At this time of year, however, I am reminded of a sensation that goes nearly beyond the realm of words. A day that represented the doorway to a kingdom of sunscreen and the smell of chlorine: the last day of school. Whether it was elementary, high-school or college, that glorious moment in time brings with it a promise of hope that still puts a smile on my face.

In grown-up terms: It’s like a Friday afternoon before a long three-day weekend. Except instead of three days, it’s three glorious months of endless possibilities. Or at least it was for me. Sure there were weeds to pull, lawns to mow and fences to paint, but there were also late nights, tackle-football games, days at the beach and – as I got into high school – the prospect of meeting mysterious girls from other schools.

Every night on my drive home from the office, I pass by a small elementary school. Last week, I witnessed the kids storming out and plunging into the freedom of summertime. I couldn’t help but remember. I remember finishing up that last final. Nearly coming unglued waiting for that bell to ring. Turning in text books. Signing yearbooks. Basking in the glow of climbing up one more ring in the social totem poll.

There’s just a nostalgic-filtered magic I get when I think about those times. It’s matchless and spectacular. And it put a smile on my heart to see those kids experiencing it with the same inexpressible glee.

Like I said, I really haven’t minded growing up. But the times, places and people left behind still live in a treasured place that my heart loves to visit. I don’t miss scantrons, report cards and homework. But I remember my old friend — the summertime — with fondness and wonder.