I would give anything for one more night of chasing fire flies.
Forget what the calendar says - summertime has arrived in Cincinnati, complete with the 90+ temperatures and air as thick as soup. My full, course hair goes haywire in this kind of weather, becoming a frizzy, kinky mess of spun gold. The strands on the nape of my neck grow damp in the short time it takes to slam my apartment shut and dash out to the car. My blouses and dress pants stick to my skin, wet with beads of perspiration.
I hate suffering through this weather, but it wasn't always that way. In another day in time, the weather was just an afterthought.
Hot days were meant for icy popsicles and lemonade stands. When I was a little, stinky girl of 11 or 12, I lived in bathing suits and tennis shoes. The mix of sun and chlorine would bleach my flaxen blonde and tattoo my face with a streak of brown freckles. Mom would pour us plastic Reds cups full of lemonade and kool-aid, giving us a chance to hydrate in between serious sessions of riding bikes, foraging through the woods and hunting for fossils.
I loved summer.
We'd have to spend about an hour every weekday morning at swim team practice, cranking out lap upon lap upon lap of breast stroke, freestyle, back stroke and butterfly (my worst stroke). After practice, I'd spend an hour in the finished basement, watching Little House on the Prairie and Harper Valley PTA on TBS, then Mom would force us to turn off the TV and go outside and play.
Our motley crew of neighborhood kids would run all day long, hopping from house to house, swing set to swing set, playing different versions of tag, four square. Sometimes a merciful mom would let come in and beat the heat, and we'd play Barbies, dress-up or video games.
We'd play straight through the evening, plotting elaborate rounds of hide-and-seek, ghost in the graveyard, my heart racing and the sweat streaming across my brow, I'd hunt for hiding spots and other hiders. We'd chase lightning bugs with mason jars, holes punched in the metal cap with a nail and hammer.
Those were the best days - and nights - of my life. The biggest stress was whether Mom was going to give us a dollar or two for a treat at the pool snack bar. No homework, no significant chores, no responsibility - just passing the time with tag and ten speeds.
I'd give up my 401k for a chance to go back - just one more time.