i have memories of idyllic childhood summers where i would run around barefoot in the backyard, having brave adventures and catching fireflies until dinnertime and dusk. i don’t remember feeling pained by prickles underfoot. i don’t remember humidity so thick it was stifling, air so close i couldn’t breathe.
i know those things must have been, but i don’t remember them.
i do remember being dabbed all over with calamine lotion after earning so many bug bites i looked like i had the pox of some kind. i do remember the smell of sunscreen, of chlorine, and of peeling scaly skin off my arms after a sizzling sunburn. darn those red-head genes that didn’t give me red hair.
i remember countless scrapes, bruises and abrasions — it wouldn’t have been summer without them. i remember picking honeysuckle flowers and slowly slipping the stamen out to catch the single drop of nectar within.
this year the honeysuckle, like everything else, bloomed early. this year i’ve winced repeatedly walking across the backyard barefoot, trying to avoid the million sweet gum balls the autumn deposited in the grass.
maybe when i was three feet tall and running wild with the wind in my hair i just didn’t feel the pain.