Saturday, September 5, 2009

What I Didn't Do On My Summer Vacation

It’s Labor Day weekend, and even though summer doesn’t officially end until later this month, people are having their final summer picnics and closing their pools until next season. Around here, the kids have already completed their first week of school. Where did the summer go? While I love autumn and football games, I’m sorry to see the summer end. It seemed to go by in a blink. I didn’t get to do what I had hoped or had planned to do.

I didn’t get to the beach as I had hoped. I heard about others’ beach trips, and I watched my co-workers and neighbors getting tanner. I didn’t plant any flower boxes. I didn’t quit smoking. I didn’t finish my novel. I didn’t read all the books I ordered from the book catalogues that kept coming in the mail. My summer sounds so boring and bleak. But even though I spent most of the summer working, there were some lovely moments. Originally for this week’s exercise I was going to ask you to do a twist on the Natalie Goldberg freewrite “What I did on my summer vacation,” and change it to “What I didn’t do…” But that sounds so negative and full of regret. There’s enough negativity around us. Instead, I want us to continue focusing on the positive, on hope.

I didn’t get to do a lot of things I had hoped, but for the most part, I had a great summer. My favorite memory is of the time my daughter and I went to the county fair. We walked through the rows of farm animals. We watched baby chicks hatching. She had her picture taken with a cow. We watched a live elephant show and went to the petting zoo. We fed the baby goats and a llama spit on her. I couldn’t convince her to ride a camel. When a guy in one of the booths approached us, he asked if we were sisters. We told him we were cousins transplanted from Pittsburgh. Daisy and Lola. I told him a story about how Daisy’s mom was an F. Scott Fitzgerald aficionado and named her after the Daisy in The Great Gatsby. You think that would have scared him away, but instead, he asked us for our number. We gave him the number to the Rejection Hotline. We ate traditional fair food and listened to the live bands. The air was filled with the smell of frying funnel cakes and French fries (the vendor called them Freedom fries, and I went into a rant about how French fries have nothing to do with France). From a distance we watched the dust clouds and heard the roaring engines of the tractor pull. We got caught in a downpour and ran through the rain, laughing. Mostly from that day I remember we laughed a lot.

For this week’s freewrite, write about your favorite summer memory. It doesn’t have to be from this most recent summer. Start your freewrite with, “When I think about summer…”Set your timer for 15 minutes and write without stopping, without censoring yourself.

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