Hi! Gretchen here, from Eat More Carbs
So the prompt is summer. I’ll give you some highlights.
I grew up going on family vacations in the summer. Each year the local library would offer free black and white maps of the United States. The goal was to bring them with you on road trips and try to find license plates from all fifty states. When you saw a license plate from Maryland, “OMG I SAW MARYLAND WHERE IS MY CRAYON, I NEED TO COLOR IT IN!” There were always the elusive Hawaii and Alaska, along with most of the western states. God forbid my older brother saw one that I didn’t.
“I just saw Montana! But you didn’t see it, so you can’t color yours in!”
“I did too see it! I see the car right there!”
“But you didn’t see the license plate! Mom, Gretchen’s cheating!” (He then probably hit me)
Then there was the one time we were traveling in the old Volvo whose back window didn’t go ALL the way up. It wasn’t a big deal, until my parents decided to take us through the CAR WASH. While we were napping.
You know that phrase, “never wake a sleeping child?” Well, especially don’t wake a sleeping child by terrifying them with anything that may cause them to believe they are about to drown. I woke up to the water spraying in the window. They had tried shoving a blanket in the crevice of the open window, but that was full of the fail and instead they had at least one screeching imp; I’m not sure what my brother was doing. I just know I was traumatized.
I had minor anxiety attacks whenever I went through the car wash for years to come. Seriously, like until I was in my twenties. I wouldn’t go through the car wash alone, and whenever I did go, I would insist on getting out and checking ALL THE DOORS AND WINDOWS before we went through.
Side note: why do you need a car wash while on a road trip? Thanks mom and dad.
There was also the summer of the Macarena. You know the one. 1996. Summer after seventh grade. My best friend Sarah’s family and the beach house. We made a mix tape. Even to this day, when the Donna Lewis hit, “I Love You Always Forever” comes on the radio, I expect it to transition with a scratchy jolt to a hastily recorded-off-the-radio-version of the Macarena. We listened to that tape on repeat for a week straight. Good times.
I went to summer camp for seven years growing up, too…Christian summer camp, where we prayed before and after every activity. Flagpole? Good morning, Jesus. Breakfast? Better say grace. Time for canoeing! Let us pray we don’t fall out. Soccer? Pray for sportsmanship, then thank God afterward for no injuries. Well, except for Sally. Please help her snapped femur to heal quickly. Everyone was on one of two teams—the Romans or the Galatians. No, I’m not making this up. I could do a team cheer if you really want me to prove it to you.
Once (twice, actually!) my parents bussed (church vanned) the entire youth group to pick me up from my final day of camp. It was an amazing surprise, and we even stopped at a go-kart place on the way home. Praise Jesus for go-karts!
Most families go to the beach for vacation. Not my family. At least, no more than a handful of times. My parents hated the beach. Where did we go for many a summer family getaway? Well, sometimes we would go to Ohio for a family reunion, where the main things I remember are going to Taco Bell and Toy Palace, a Toys-r-Us-like establishment. I also learned to play 52-pickup and what a laundry chute was. I was convinced that rich people had laundry chutes. But our vacation location for fun? MAINE.
Yeah, you read that right, Maine. Where the party never stops. (I’m pretty sure that’s the state motto, no?) And you can cash in your recyclables for money. I remember being really into that activity. The perk of Maine was that it wasn’t sweltering hot in August, (as opposed to the humid mess of Virginia), so it was a fun treat to wear a sweatshirt in the evenings. I still remember eating donuts and blueberry muffins on mornings on the porch in Maine, looking out onto the bay. It may not sound like the most fun place for an 8 year old, but there was a bookstore and a railway museum in town, and I was a nerd with a nerd father, so I was happy. I read my Babysitters Club books on the rocks at Pemaquid Point, while you were building sandcastles and learning to swim in the ocean. I may be slightly resentful that we didn’t have a summer beach house, but the truth is that I would go back to Maine to relive those days in a heartbeat. And I’d bring all my recyclables so we could cash them in.