Summer can mean something different for everyone. It means lounging on the beach with a good book, lake trips, boating, pools, pool noodles, swim goggles, chlorine, sunscreen, suntans, sunburns, aloe vera. Umbrellas and beach towels. Waves, sand, and serenity.
It’s sitting around campfires in the company of friends and family. Marshmallows toasted golden and placed with precision into the perfect smore.
It’s setting up tents, unrolling sleeping bags. Telling scary stories under the light of the moon. Flashlights and shadow puppets. Summer camps and meeting new friends.
It’s warm, sleepy sunrises with no alarms and no immediate obligations. Episode after episode of early morning cartoons while slurping children’s cereal.
Running through the sprinklers in the backyard. Grass-stained knees. Slippin’ slides and plastic pools. Wiffleball games and riding bikes around the neighborhood.
It’s ice cream trucks and sticky fingers. Watermelon and ice-cold water in tall sweaty glasses. Lemonade stands and treehouses. Walks in the park. Tire swings and jungle gyms. Slides, monkey bars, woodchips, and gravel.
It’s vacations to new locales. Road trips. Getting lost. Finding your way back. Chill playlists with windows rolled down. Wind blowing through your hair. Structured plans or spontaneous spur of the moment outings.
It’s lying on the couch decompressing after a long day at work. Streaming movies and TV shows you haven’t watched yet. Fingers covered in Cheeto dust. Letting the AC run while you’re wrapped up tight in a blanket just because you can. Staying in the same position for hours because, frankly, you deserve it.
It’s a break from school for at least a few months. Putting down the pencils, the pens, and giving your mind a rest.
Privacy and personal space. R&R. Time to recuperate and take stock of your mental and emotional health. Time to heal, recover, rejuvenate, and restart.
It’s night games: capture the flag, red rover, ghost in the graveyard, sardines. The orange glow of streetlamps blooming at the same time like clockwork. Warm evenings and sleepovers.
It’s sleeping on the trampoline under a clear night sky naming constellations. It’s watching a meteor shower and wishing on a shooting star.
It’s long days and short nights. Staying up all night to watch the sunrise. Staying up all night watching movies. Summer blockbusters on the big screen. Popcorn, Mike ‘n Ikes, and large sodas with two, maybe even three straws each.
It’s late afternoon barbecues in the backyard with family, friends, and neighbors. Block parties and chicken on the grill. Ruffled potato chips and Styrofoam plates. Coolers full of ice and refreshing canned soda. Hamburgers and hotdogs. Macaroni salad and coleslaw.
It’s sitting on hillsides on blankets getting ready to watch fireworks at dusk. Celebrating our freedom and those who’ve sacrificed so much to protect it.
It’s freedom. Freedom to choose. Freedom to worship, to vote, to speak, to love, to exist. Freedom to be who we are without judgement. Freedom to just be.
Whoever you are, you have the freedom to define what summer means to you, so whatever it ends up being, make it count. (Brown is a Serve Daily contributor.)