Verano Nuevo

100_7072This summer has been different the second time around. Good different, in many ways.

My sons attend a surf camp in the mornings, and although I have not seen it with my own eyes, I understand that they are actually able to surf. For a girl who grew up in the desert, having sons who can surf is like having a cousin that can bend bars with her mind. Simply not possible.

They also play almost daily with the neighbor kids. This is a gift, because we live, as do most of the people on our street, behind a fortress of wall and gate. Our home is completely enclosed, and it’s possible to lurk behind the walls, troll-like. Time, language, and childhood worked its magic, and the kids are here, or there, playing soccer, or Minecraft, or drawing pictures. And assuredly, eating anything not locked in a bulletproof safe.

Last summer felt busier…more driving to the beach, or the pool. More time spent seeking entertainment during those hot, endless afternoons. Now, we do less. I offer, and more often than not, they prefer to be with their playmates.

I feel incredibly grateful, and also a bit replaced. My role is mostly mopping up the water as they tramp through the kitchen, or cutting large slices of watermelon for the hordes.

The neighbor children speak to me in Spanish, of course, and they are less patient with me, because they are children. More often, I am turning to my own children to translate. They roll their eyes, and pretend to be very much put-upon, but they comply.

I treasure that they can feel so important.

Around three each afternoon, the three of us sit down for lunch. I set the table, pour milk into glasses, count out cherry tomatoes and cook the largest meal of the day. We pause. Often, we will retreat to the couch, and read aloud a chapter of Harry Potter, while the dog snoozes on her bed.

There are moments-hours-days where they scream, and hit and suffer from gross injustice. I send them to their rooms, and consider hanging up the laundry.

It’s an imperfect life….I feel out of touch from my city. I spend less time walking its calles, talking with people during paseo. I haven’t had a cafe and tostada for weeks. I miss my school tribe, and spend more time sending pointless, chatty texts than necessary.

And summer is when military folks move to new duty stations, which is an ever-present ghost in the back of my mind. Someday I will say goodbye, or others will say goodbye to me. I can’t bear it.

But I am less exhausted. I am able to read books, drink a glass of wine on the patio, study hard, and work out hard. I talk my oldest to a coffee shop and we play cards. I recognize the joy in front of me.

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