Last summer, my husband William and I spent a lot of time pretending we were on vacation when we were really stuck at home. Each weekend, we would choose our destination. Sometimes our VRBO would “be” in Italy, sometimes in France, once in Spain, once in England, at one point we were in Switzerland.
Then we would have the food and wine to match: pizza, pasta, jamón, rösti, fish and chips with mushy peas. We would listen to French or Italian or Spanish music. We would sometimes build a fire and tell ourselves we had had a great day skiing or hiking or sightseeing. We would spend quite a bit of time talking about the quality of our VRBO, especially how relieved we were that they accepted dogs and that their kitchen knives were sharp.
We had a lot of time on our hands. And we are a couple of nerds anyway.
When I think back to that time, I remember how sweet it was. Obviously, we wished we were on vacation for real but none of that was possible. So we made do. And there was a loveliness about it that I won’t forget.
Fast forward to this summer and I have to tell you: I am having the summer of my life. Everything is fun and everything is an adventure, whether I’m running errands or going out to dinner or even just driving to Lexington listening to the podcast Smartless. There is a fever, a celebratory atmosphere wherever you go, isn’t there? People are happy it’s summer anyway, but more specifically, they’re happy it’s this summer.
I realized this over the weekend when I was filling up my car with gas. I am obsessed with using my Kroger gas points (and getting the notice that I get $1 off per gallon — squeal!), so there I was at pump No. 3. Kroger north in Somerset is located right next to the road that will take you to Lee’s Ford Marina so both the grocery store and the gas station were packed with boaters who were filling or stocking up for the weekend. I stood there thinking about all the fun they’d have out on the water, about the hot dog buns and sunflower seeds and solo cups and Funions they’d be buying at the grocery.
At any other time in my life, getting gas is only a pain. But that day I found myself standing there practically on lake vacation with them. I could imagine the breeze in my hair, I could taste those salty seeds.
What’s more, we can actually go places ourselves. A few weeks ago, we took the dogs to Asheville and had one of the most perfect vacations of our lives. We ate extremely well, we took the dogs hiking to waterfalls, up mountains, even through the grounds at The Biltmore, and we met up with friends whom we hadn’t seen in nearly two years. Everything was light and happy, even if we were just sitting on the back deck of our VRBO cabin drinking a craft beer and staring at the forest.
Since, summer has been filled with charcuterie by the local pool, boating with friends, hosting dinners until p.m. turns into a.m. A few weeks ago, we went out for hot fudge sundaes on a whim. This week, I’m run/walking a 5K to raise money for vaccine. Next week, it’s Master Musician’s Festival.
And all of it, even the smallest parts of it, are so incredibly amped up. The watermelon is sweet. The conversation is good. The fireworks are beautiful.
The crazy thing is we spent last summer pretending we were on elaborate vacations to far-flung places. This year, it’s enough to get in the car and sit on a patio and sip margaritas out of Styrofoam cups (we’ve done that too).
Interestingly, I recognize this for what this is. Ever since I was small, my mom and her sisters have talked about Expo ’67, the world’s fair that descended in Montreal, Quebec, from April 27 to Oct. 29 that year. My mom worked at Bell Telephone, my stepdad Peter managed a parking lot, they met in line at the German pavilion. Every night, my mom and her sisters and Peter and his friends would finish their days at work and head out on the town. They partied for six months. And they spent the rest of the lives reminiscing about what they had done.
This summer, the rest of 2021, is our Expo ’67. It’s our time to rejoice and gather. Our time to squeeze the sweetest parts out of life.
I wish you the summer of your lives, dear readers. You’ve earned it.