When you woke up to the thrum of the window fan, the day was full of possibility. There were no plans, or schedules, or adult-supervised activities on the calendar. There was no calendar. It was July, and high summer. It had been weeks since school ended and would be weeks before school began again, and the summer felt like it would last forever.
You pulled on a striped t-shirt and shorts, because that’s what everybody wore, and laced up your Red Ball Jets, because everyone knew they made you run faster and jump higher. You raced downstairs and ate some Frosted Flakes, happy that it was summer and hot and your Mom wouldn’t make you eat a “hot breakfast” like oatmeal. Then you and your brother said “Bye, Mom!” and charged out the back door, looking for your friends in the neighborhood. They weren’t hard to find. It seemed like every family had three, four, or five kids.
So you’d round up the gang, and then talk about what to do. The days were immense and wide open, ready to be filled by whatever you could think of. Maybe you’d play baseball, or “army.” Maybe you’d work on that fort you all were building in the woods behind the Shantzs’ house. You could climb a tree, or see who could throw a crab apple the farthest. Maybe you’d go exploring down by the creek and hunt for crawdads. You could take your bike to the top of the Leahys’ hill, which had to be as tall as the Rockies, then coast down, feeling the momentum build until you were really flying, and see how far you could go without pedaling. And if it was especially hot you could always take a dip in one of those plastic above-ground pools people kept on their patios, or drink cool water straight from a garden hose and maybe spray your friends while you were doing so.
You felt the sun on your scalp. You felt dust on your skin and dried mud from the creek bed on your knees and the cool grass between your toes. You felt the sticky drippings from a cherry Popsicle on your hands and the residue of bubble gum on your cheek. When twilight finally came, and the lightning bugs came out, you felt the cooler air and the goosebumps on your arms because it was just so much fun to be outside with your friends in the gathering darkness.
And when bedtime finally came, you fell asleep to the thrum of the window fan, hot and happy and hoping that tomorrow would be another day just like today.