Summer is living in a perpetual state of S’more ingredients. Backyard BBQs, pool parties, riding bikes to the lake, catching toads, digging up worms, light saber wars in the woods.
I grew up in suburban Central Pennsylvania, a far cry from the busy Brooklyn streets that bred my parents until they married in 1974. Fresh cut grass, running around barefoot catching fireflies, riding our bikes to the neighborhood pool. When you’re a kid you don’t know how great you have it. You don’t realize the magic of your memories until they become memories. You don’t realize that pickup football games at Green Hollow Park, burping contests with the Heinz brothers at Park Forest Pool and Kid’s Day at Arts Fest wove you so deeply into the fabric of your hometown.
Hometown pride runs deep in the roots of American suburbia but in Happy Valley, PA it grips you tight. Mom and Pop shops still line the historic downtown. Frisbee games on Old Main lawn, $1 cones at Meyer’s Dairy, the loud din of stadium roar every Saturday during football season. These are things that stand out to me so distinctly from my childhood. Walking to KMart for new flipflops, biking to Uni-Mart for candy, traipsing through the woods and building forts. I dream of moving back to the magical town of my childhood.
But we have found a pretty magical place here in Medford, New Jersey. The Air Force brought us here but the community has embraced us. Falling in love with a church, sitting elbow to elbow with people who care so deeply about you and your children that they feel like family after only a year. Being invited into a community that has grown up together, and not feeling like an outsider is a special and unique thing. How did we get so lucky?
And this weekend, as we celebrate our country’s freedoms and all that worked so hard for it and still do, I cannot take for granted the magical childhood we are able to weave into our children’s lives.
To see them traipsing through the woods with their weapon arsenal. Gathered around the firepit with S’mores sticks, climbing, chasing, hugging. Oblivious to the notion that these nights, late and full of soda pop, sugar and dirt are the nights they will look back on in nostalgia when they are parents. I hope that they stop, mid-run, during their football toss and take a mental snapshot, recording these moments that they are so lucky to have. I pray that I do the same.