This time of year makes me think of your typical summery things: sprinklers in the yard, sunglasses, warm breezes, cold beer, and grilling out. My father had a basic charcoal grill and sometimes I get a whiff of that smell somewhere in our neighborhood. I am instantly transported to our Hollywood backyard. My dad would be starting the grill with his makeshift coffee can and newspaper chimney, and I’d be running around the spacious yard or hiding under the Persian lime tree.
Our tree was huge and had a big dome-like shape so I would climb under and play in the shade. The smell of charcoal floated on the air until it switched to the savory taste of country-style ribs or hamburgers. Every now and then, we’d eat outside but mostly, I remember climbing the huge sycamore tree, then being called into a big Sunday meal. My parents went all-out on those days: meat, mashed potatoes, corn, salad. We ate as a family almost every night and that really embedded the importance of family meals.
When I was in high school, we moved to Orlando and started going to the July NASCAR race. This was before they added another layer to the stands so we had seats in the top row. In the case of car racing, being higher was better. For the summer race, this was the case because at the top, you got a breeze. Since that one is an evening time start, we used to stay in some little beach motel called The Talisman, eat breakfast, then tailgate at the track all day long. I wasn’t old enough to drink, but the adults did while we grilled and chilled until race time. I remember it being so hot but distracted just enough to ignore the swelter. We’d always get a fly-over and a good race, followed up by amazing fireworks.
Lately, my summers equal trips to the beach with the kids and seeing how much they enjoy it. There’s a certain comfort in knowing that we’re helping them build childhood memories that they’ll look back on – hopefully like me – and think fondly of. I love seeing how much they love the water and building sand castles. As they grow, we’ll try skim boarding and shell collecting (on other beaches; St. George, not to much) and other summer beach type things. The goal is to rent a beach house at some point and maybe these memories will morph into extensions of that. I want that so badly, it huts. But for now, plug away at work, bide my time. It will happen.