Right now, I’m jealous of every kid under the age of thirteen.
Why am I jealous of them, you ask? Because they get to spend the entire summer just PLAYING.
Think about it. When was the last time you had three months off, just to while away the hours, with no responsibilities except to come inside the house for lunch and suppertime (where the food is already there, prepared for you; you don’t need to do a thing except eat), and just have FUN?
I think the last time I had that experience was probably when I was about twelve years old. Once thirteen hit, I was an awkward, nerdy teenager hooked on soap operas and longing for some boy to give me the time of day. Playing outside in the summer sun no longer held so much appeal for me.
But before the age of thirteen, I was a summertime wild child, free to do whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to do it (within limits, of course). Enya has this song called “Wild Child,” and whenever I hear it, I am instantly transported back to that free feeling of being eight years old, running through sprinklers, riding my bike all over our little town, my messy hair blowing wildly in the breeze, and picking little green apples off our neighbor’s apple tree (mean old Mrs. Schroeder HATED that, and we were scared of her—but that made it all the more appealing to us, to try to sneak the sour yet succulent fresh apples from that little old tree without her catching us).
It was a wild time, and a happy time.
But adulthood has its happy times, too. Even though there are the adult responsibilities and worries of working, paying the bills, and doing household chores…there are also the extra freedoms that come from being an adult. Like being able to eat a cookie whenever you want and not have to ask your Mom or Dad if you can have one. Or deciding whenever you want to get together with your friends, without having to ask permission first. Or being able to run stark-naked through your house without anyone scolding you. (Not that I ever do that, mind you! Heh heh heh heh…) Or how about being able to watch whatever t.v. show or movie you want to watch, any time? Hell, you can even watch movies with swearing and nudity now. Hell, you can even swear now without anyone yelling at you—and dammit, that’s awesome!
And you can drink beer. Mmmmm….beer…….
But I think the absolute best part about being an adult is that you have more experience with life, so you can stop and really savor a moment—any moment—and you can really understand how beautiful and sweet that life can be. Sure, a child can appreciate moments, too—but not in the same way an adult can. Children don’t have that perspective that adults generally have, the perspective that says, “This moment will not happen again, so let me just really take it in and remember it for all of my life.”
And that’s what I did today. After leaving work at noon (yay for summer hours!), I was walking across the Lake Street bridge, and the song “Chicago (My Kind of Town)” came up randomly on my MP-3 player. I paused for a moment and looked down at the river beneath me. There were tourist boats and river taxis and kayakers chuggin’ on down the river, and the sun was glistening on the water’s edge in a beautiful, shimmery sparkle…and I nearly shed a tear as I heard the words:
And each time I leave, Chicago is
Tugging my sleeve…
In that moment, I could never picture myself being anywhere else in the world. I felt profoundly grateful for this city, for this day, and for this moment.