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Today my boys and I arrived in New York to visit my parents for a week. The weather was hazy, hot, and humid – typical weather for mid-July. We headed up to the pool club for lunch and a swim. As I walked into the women’s dressing area, I was startled by a vision – the ghosts of summers past.

Four tween-age girls sitting on towels eating Italian ices and playing cards – probably Hearts or BS – with their hair slicked back from the pool and skinny awkward limbs tanned from the sun. Laughing. Sharing jokes. Talking about nothing in particular and all important everythings at the same time. We were summer friends. I don’t remember hanging out with them during the school year, but come summer you could find the four of us swimming, playing cards, sharing babysitting jobs, and just being kids. The horribleness of middle school was forgotten during those innocent summer months. Our parents would drop us off at the club – ahhh  the sweet freedom  of no parents, no school, no homework, no peer pressure, no responsibilities. Only pure and simple summer joy.

Summer friendships are so very different from school year friendships. Summer friendships are more a matter of location than anything else – we’re all here together so let’s hang out. During the summer I could be a strong swimmer and great card player instead of the nerdy little girl too shy to raise her hand in class. I had a group of friends in the summertime rather than the single friend I would latch on to during the school year. Making friends was always very hard for me – still is. But somehow I had found these three girlfriends at our pool club.

Eventually summer jobs took the place of those idyllic summers. We’d occasionally see other at the pool on a day off or on a weekend, but it was never the same. I haven’t seen any of these friends since I graduated from high school, but I think of them in the summer when I’m visiting that same pool club from many years ago.

Growing up, my husband spent his summers on Nantucket. There he made lifelong friends and has his own memories of summers past. Every year we spend close to a month on Nantucket with family and friends. Our boys are making their own summer memories. They spend time with lots of cousins and friends – their friends are our friends’ children. They all swim, play cards, find sea creatures, build sandcastles, and walk into town together. They laugh, tell jokes, sing pop songs and retell stories from summers past. The families gather each night at different houses for dinner. We celebrate the Fourth of July with dinner and fireworks on the beach. We go to church fairs. We fish. We sail. The children are all growing up together, forming lifelong bonds and it is wonderful to watch. For eleven months of the year we won’t see these family members or friends since we’re spread out all over the country. But within moments of reuniting, it’s hard to tell so much time had past.

I am truly grateful that my boys have summer friends and memories. My wish is that someday when they have their own kids, they  too will be visited by the ghosts of summers past.

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