And if I was, what the heck happened?
It seems like just yesterday, in another June many years ago, that I was graduating from PS 60 after finishing 6th Grade.
My teacher was Mrs. Roth, a terrific woman, and I can remember her waving at me and wishing me a nice summer vacation as I was leaving the schoolyard that day.
“Summer Vacation,” what a remarkable pair of words when you’re a kid. By the time you’re 11 or 12 it feels like you’ve been going to school for years, and the words summer vacation were enough to get you excited.
Summer was when you got to stay out a little later, playing whiffle ball in the street or tag. It was when you lost track of the weekdays, and you felt like you had a million days before your next school day. It was a big, giant taste of freedom.
We didn’t have a lot of money, but we didn’t need it. I remember going into Reap’s Candy on 95th and Jamaica and buying a small foam glider for 5 cents. It was shaped like a WWII fighter.
We played with and battered that little plane for days. We climbed the steps leading to the J and watched it glide almost all the way to 96th Street.
That was the best nickel I ever spent.
I remember the excitement of packing the car and driving to the Catskills for a few days, the thrill of getting out, of going away.
It was fun seeing all the little differences in other places. The different newspapers, the strange new supermarkets and products, and all the television stations were on different channels.
We visited local attractions like the Catskill Game Farm and Carson City. And we got one of those bumper stickers that said “This Car Climbed Hunter Mountain!”
Then it was back home and back to the whiffle ball, chasing each other around the playground and running through the sprinklers. We used to run through Forest Park playing Army, small sticks standing in for rifles and pistols.
And some days, when it was really too hot to run around, you just sat with your friends and debated who would win in a motorcycle race, The Fonz or Evel Knievel. (The answer is The Fonz, because Knievel kept crashing).
It was such a wonderful time of our lives, a break from the routine and a chance to enjoy doing little or next to nothing.
And if you could go back and enjoy just one more summer vacation like that, you would cherish and savor each and every one of those summer days because you know that once you start working, it’s never the same.
It’s a subtle change in nomenclature, but everything changes when “Summer Vacation” becomes simply ”Summer.” How would you explain that to your 12-year old self?
It’s like a working vacation. The weather is nice, but you can’t enjoy it on weekdays too much because you have to get up early for work the next day.
You hope you can sit outside this weekend, but only if it doesn’t rain. You don’t have the luxury of wasting your days off because you have so few of them.
You’ve got a week off next month but you’ve already made plans to do work around the house.
You’ve got responsibilities, it’s part of being an adult. You do that for a few decades, then you retire and every day is summer vacation, all year round.
It’s a long road between Summer Vacation and Retirement, and if you’re currently at the young age where you’re still enjoying Summer Vacation, brace yourselves. You’re in for a bumpy ride.
Try to savor it, enjoy every day. Put down your phones, get out and enjoy life. Believe it or not, these are the best days of your lives.