Summer

By , Houston, TX
That summer was when I knew him. Although I had been in school with him ever since I can remember, sang 3 rows up and 2 seats across from him in the children’s church choir, and played in the same park with him until I outgrew those red chipped-paint monkey bars, I never really knew him until that summer.
I don’t know how relationships are formed. In May he was all jock and cool and counterfeit. He swaggered down the cream-tiled hallway, confident enough to never glance at the cheerleader girlfriend poised luxuriously next to him.
But then endless lazy days of baking sun and glorious procrastination came. Maybe it was our accidental meeting at the grimy convenience store I live far too close to, where we both reached in the frosty cooler at the same time for the last ice cream sandwich. Maybe it was when he let me have it. Maybe it was when he asked me for my phone number as I scattered change for the lady behind the register like he was just meeting me, even though we had lived in this same town together since we were too young to remember. Maybe it was just his broad, perfect grin.
That summer was ours, and the days passed in a timeless vulnerability. A conglomeration of kaleidoscope moments, a picture slideshow running through my head, a narration always on my lips. Singing, dreaming, running, playing, laughing just for the sheer joy of it. The first day he came to my house nothing was on TV but an old black-and-white, I Love Lucy. He grumbled but already knew how the episode ended. And I realized far later that from that day forward, he always came over in the in-between time of 12:00, where the clock was transfixed in a place between morning and afternoon. That was when nothing played but “our show”. Lucy’s laughter makes me sad now, in a bittersweet way.
Our memories were swimming in our clothes, riding our bikes at dusk, my iPod ever on shuffle, breaking all of the rules but never admitting to putting our hands in the cookie jar. We were conspirators, challengers, smilers. We lounged in the sweet parched front-yard grass when nobody was home, and I knew he would protect me. I knew him. All about him, how his dad worked industriously at the insurance company for him to go to college, even though he despised the job. How his brother was a whiskey-drinking loser who probably wouldn’t amount to a single thing. How his mother was born in this town and never got out. How his biggest fear was ending up the same way.
We passed simple, glorious moments together. Being with him was the dizzy after spinning in childhood circles, the ache after smiling too long, the breath before a kiss, the smell of the sunscreen I forgot to use.
I forgot a lot, that summer. I forgot his girlfriend. I forgot that the whole TV schedule changes when school starts. I forgot that the sun just doesn’t shine as brightly once the leaves start to tinge golden. I forgot that good things don’t last forever. And once school started, although it is what scared me most, after a while I forgot him.
Now I don’t recognize him by his smile. I recognize him by the back of his shaggy, floppy hair, or his tanned arm or his freckled left ear or his dirty Nike or his hand laced in hers. And I just don’t know him anymore, because summer is over.





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