Monday, August 27, 2012

The Summers of My Heart

by Kimberly MacCarron

Some of us were dreading this topic.  Not me!  The question has been raised:  Can Summer Romances Last?

I say they can, and they do.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Summer romances aren’t meant to last.  They are a learning experience.  A moment out of time.   When every day is ripe with possibilities and you yearn to make the most of them. 

For me, the summers I remember best were all tangled up with a boy.  From the time I was little, we used to vacation in Ontario, Canada at Torpitt Lodge.  When I was a kid with missing front teeth, I loved it for all the reasons any kid loves vacation.  Splashing in the water at the lake.  Going on hikes and picking wild blueberries.  Being chosen to ring the big brass bell for the lodge dinner hour. 

When I was fifteen, I loved Torpitt Lodge for a different reason.  Kevin. 

He worked at the lodge, and no, he wasn’t a dance instructor.  He was my age, and he helped out in the kitchens or worked at the snack bar.  And he was just plain adorable.  We started out as friends.  My best friend Rachel came with us that year, and we all used to hang out at the snack bar or down at the lake.  It took a few days, but eventually he kissed me.  Now, if you ever read my post about my first kiss, you’ll remember that it was a disaster.  And Kevin happened to be my second attempt.  And boy, oh glorious boy, could he kiss!  It was as I’d dreamt it would.  Those nights were the nights I treasured at Sparrow Lake.  He held my hand and dropped soft kisses on my lips.  We walked around for hours until he’d walk me back to my cottage at the end of the night.  He’d give me a quick kiss right in front of my grandparents or my parents or God Himself.  And he was so, so sweet and cute that nobody cared.

When I left at the end of vacation, I didn’t cry.  I felt a little lost on the way home, wondering if there would ever be a boy who could kiss me like that again.  We kept in touch by snail mail sporadically during the school year, and then I went back to Torpitt the next summer.   

I turned sixteen during that vacation, and I no longer had the braces on my teeth that I had the previous summer.  Other changes started happening.  Kevin and I picked right up where we left off the year before.  He was still sweet.  He still had that same mischievous smile and twinkle in his eyes.  And he still could kiss like nobody’s business.  I knew that because I managed to get many kisses under my fickle little belt by then. 

Our rented cottage was next door to the staff quarters once again, but this time it proved to be a little problem.  For all of the years I wondered what it was like inside, I made up for lost time.  I ditched my friend Rachel on so many nights so I could go to Kevin’s section of a shared room and make out.  Kevin and I took every moment we could to be together.

Nothing really happened.  He was the first boy to let his hands wander a little bit over clothing, but I was fine with that, but the intensity of our kisses shifted, changed.  They were still wonderful, but they lasted longer, and the space between our bodies somehow disappeared.  We had semi-privacy, and one night we had alcohol from the older staff members.  That night, I came home, stumbling a bit either from one too many drinks or just the time spent in a horizontal position (innocent and completely clothed though it was).  My mom took me aside and talked with me.  In a nonjudgmental way, she explained how boys shouldn’t be mixed with either beds or alcohol and definitely not with both simultaneously.  I listened, and I never mixed any of them again until my college days.  But that’s a different blog post completely. 

When I left that summer, I cried the whole way home.  The. Whole. Way.  I stayed in the hotel room at St. Katherine’s and cried myself to sleep after crying the entire drive there.  Kevin and I kept in touch for a while, but I never went back to Torpitt Lodge.  My parents decided to buy a camper instead so that we could enjoy the campground all summer instead of just a couple of weeks at Torpitt. 

I think about Kevin.  I wonder what happened to him, who he married, whether he ever remembers those summer nights quite the way I did.  I don’t know if I was special.  He could have had a different girl every couple of weeks, but somehow I don’t think so.   I don’t want that to be true, even now.

The greatest thing about most summer romances is that we know IN ADVANCE that it certainly isn’t meant to last.  I think that’s why they seem so all-consuming at the time.  Every moment is a treasure.  You wake up early to the possibilities of the day, and you stay up late exploring those possibilities. 

Summer romances generally don't end with heated words or the knowledge that he turned out to be a world-class jerk.  You never really got to that level.  You saw the best in each other and didn’t look for all the reasons it wouldn’t work out.  You didn’t see the little things that would drive you crazy during those other three seasons of the year.   They were moments out of time.  Free from stress.  Free from responsibility.  Alive with possibility and excitement. 

Perhaps summer romances don’t last, but those memories are tucked away in the heart.  I still remember her, that young girl.  Vividly.  I think that’s why I’ve always loved writing young adult stories.  Because that strange mash-up of innocence and passion never really happens again, and I miss it. 

There’s a great quote by Edna St. Vincent Millay that I love:  “I know I am but summer to your heart, and not the full four seasons of the year.”

For me, those summer romances fulfilled their purpose.  They weren’t designed to last past that.  It wasn’t until I married my husband that I found the one who holds all the seasons of my heart, but I’ve never quite forgotten the ones who held my summers.

Who held a summer of your heart?  


Carlene said...

Awwww, Kim! This was beautiful! I have goosebumps AND teary eyes. I can definitely feel why you write YA. You've got it mama. That voice and ability to capture a young woman's special moments.

For me, I always envisioned summer love being just like Sandy and Danny at the beach in the opening of Grease. Of course being from San Diego and not having an appreciation for the beach yet because it was always there, I usually found my cute summer boy at Sea World when they used to have these dance nights. I mean the nighttime Shamu show AND cute boys dancing to Salt n Pepa's Push It! Too fun and great memories.

Thank you for your post today xoxoxo

Kimberly said...

Thanks, Carlene! That vision of you at Sea World made me laugh! Push it real good! LOL.
For me, I remember Bananarama's Cruel, Cruel Summer. :-)
I found one summer boy on one of those 2-hour cruise things in Pittsburgh. He not only lasted part of the summer but he took me to see Journey in concert. :-) Can't even recall his name....that's sad...

Kerri Carpenter said...

Sooooo sweet!!!

Sadly, I don't have a summer romance to report but I loved reading about yours. I think you should look Kevin up on Facebook. Actually… don't. Because your memories are probably better left preserved. ;-)

Melissa Landers said...

Awww! That's so sweet. I want to be jealous of your summer romance with Kevin, but at the same time, I can feel sympathy pains inside my chest for you. Nothing stings worse than young heartbreak. :(

Lorie Langdon said...

I absolutely love this post, Kim! You nailed the beauty of summer romance...we know in our hearts it isn't meant to last, so we cherish every moment. Perfect!
I also love the Millay quote. So glad you've found the one who holds all the seasons of your heart. :D

Pintip said...

Hi Kim!
I love this post. You captured the sweet agony of summer romance perfectly. I also love the quote, but my FAVORITE line of the whole post was when you said your husband was the first one to ever hold the four seasons of your heart. Sigh, sigh, and triple sigh. I agree with Carlene: this post exemplifies why you should -- and are -- writing YA.
Great job!

Kimberly said...

Kerri, I actually did try to look him up on FB, but then I decided to keep my memories as is. :-) But there's still that burning curiosity. Of course, he's probably bald and fat and divorced three times now. LOL.

Heartbreak at that age is so awful. I remember it well. That's the danger of increasing intensity. The first summer wasn't as devastating to my heart as the following one.

Kimberly said...

Thanks, Lorie! It's nice when we do find that special someone, but it never takes away from the sweet memories of our teen years. There's something so amazing about those relationships.

Kimberly said...

I know exactly what you mean. It is "sweet agony". That describes it exactly. The good thing about summer romances is that pretty soon you start wondering about the school-year romance in the fall. LOL

Avery Flynn said...

Summer love. Dang that really makes me think back to going to visit relatives in Kansas and one boy who bought me a necklace so I could take it home with me to remember him. Awwwww.

Diana Belchase said...

Loved it Kim. You capture it perfectly. And the important thing about summer love is teaching you how to pull yourself together for the times when it's that awful breakup after all four seasons kind of love. Each hard experience doesn't harden your heart, it strengthens it. Because finding your one true love is like a mega quest, for most of us, it doesn't come easily. It comes after journeying far and wide and learning lessons about love along the way.

Thanks for the memories.
Diana Belchase

Kimberly said...

Do you still have that necklace? :-) I know I would still have it because that's the kind of super sappy sentimental sap that I am. I know I said sap twice because it's deserving of that. :-)
Yay for summer romances.

Kimberly said...

That's so, so true. Those sweet summer romances are definitely a wonderful teaching tool. Although that kinda sounds cold and heartless. LOL.
But those sweet boys of our summers help us to say goodbye. The goodbyes are always hard to learn, no matter the age.

Tammy Baumann said...

Great post Kim!

Just the other day, my daughter was going through my jewelry box looking for something to wear for my niece’s wedding and she came across a hideous copper ring with a turquoise chip in the middle. She asked what on earth that was doing with all the other jewelry. I explained it was a gift from my first summer crush, Danny. It used to turn my finger green when I wore it, but I cherished that cheap little thing so much I still have it, some thirty- some years later.

My daughter asked if her dad knew I still had some guys ring, and I told her yes. But I didn’t keep the ring because of Danny. I keep it because every time I look at it my heart fills up with warm gooey stuff and I smile.

Ahhhh, the beauty of sweet innocent summer love.

(PS Tell your kiddos hi and give them a hug for me! And while you're at it, tell Donavan to knock it off...whatever he's doing! ;0)

Shea Berkley said...

Great, heartwarming story, Kim. I love the quote. I never had a reoccuring summer love. We never went to the same place twice, and we did a lot of camping where the only place to wash was in the river. River Water; not a perfume anyone would want to buy. (grin) Plus, I was always too busy challenging any dude I saw to some game or another. I was the little sister everyone loved to raze, a late bloomer, and totally clueless.

Jennifer McAndrews said...

That was just too beautiful Kim. I am wordless. All I can do is *sigh*.

Kimberly said...

Tammy--a Golden Heart Winner!!!
That's just about the sweetest story ever--Danny and the copper ring. I think you should write a YA story about that! :-)
I totally get what you mean about that warm gooey feeling. I get it just thinking about those summer loves. Ahhhh.
Donovan is with his dad right now, so I'm sure he's telling him to knock it off. LOL.

Kimberly said...

I can just see you challenging all the boys that you could do something much better. Like an Annie-Get-Your-Gun type of thing. LOL. You were probably an intimidating little thing even back then.
I'm still scared of the kickboxing girl in the high heels. I'll never get on your bad side, I promise. :-)

Kimberly said...

Somehow I don't see you ever being wordless. LOL. Thanks for stopping by!

megankhorashadi01 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan Khorashadi said...

ehhh it was ok

Kimberly said...

Thanks, Megan! I appreciate your honesty. Now, go do the dishes!
Your Mother

Susan said...

What a sweet article! I did have a summer romance (or two), but I'll be darned if I can remember the names. What your post brings to mind is the experience of telling someone last year why I feel so strongly about Charlottesville, where I went to college. "It's my youth. All the possibilities still existed. Nothing had gone wrong yet. There were no regrets."

Kimberly said...

I love that. About the possibilities and that nothing had gone wrong yet. Even when we experienced love at that tender age, usually there wasn't (or shouldn't have been) too much to regret. :-)
That's what I meant by the mixture of passion and innocence. As you get older and the relationships grow more intense, that's when regrets usually start happening.
Thanks for stopping by, Susan!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Kim. I love this story -- the ending is bittersweet, but at the same time, there was no giant fight or huge betrayal, and now you get to look back on it fondly. And I LOVE Edna SVM quote -- it's going to stick with me for a long time.

Kimberly said...

Thanks Erica! I love the bittersweet myself. It's a nice mixture for a memory. So different for those school-year relationships (3-season ones) that tend to have more of the bitterness in them because every mistake and drama follows you throughout the school year! LOL

Unknown said...

Roger was his name. Met him the summer between junior and senior year of high school when I vacationed with my girlfriend's family. We snail-mailed and called every couple of months. After graduation, I headed back to the lake with my girlfriend and met him and his cousin there. Another year of correspondence and he makes a surprise visit at my house with the intent of making things serious. I'd just got engaged to my husband a couple of days prior and hadn't had a chance to tell Roger. Awkward and the heartbreak his, not mine, but I felt guilty. I asked my husband how I missed the signs and he told me I didn't recognize the effect I had on guys and how seriously jealous he was of my summer romance and that he beat the guy to the punch.

Kimberly said...

Oh, Harley! I don't know whether to laugh or cry! That's heartbreaking. I was thinking ahead while reading your comment and I was expecting that your husband "beat the guy to a pulp." LOL. And I thought, that poor guy. Clearly in love with you and then to get beaten up! So glad I read " the punch." :-)

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Kim, what a gorgeous post--worthy of a YA book, I say! Your last line in particular had me going, "Awww!" I led a very sheltered existence in my teen years, so I'm sort of envious of your summertime capers with boys. ;)

Kimberly said...

Vanessa, my sweet Australian friend,
I love that you say "capers with boys." LOL. You're so darn cute!
I think maybe I should write this as a YA story. :-) I think I would smile the entire time while writing it. It was that great of a memory.
Kevin probably doesn't even REMEMBER me. LOL. But that's okay too. In my mind he's pined away for me for years. Never married. Goes back to the lake every summer, hoping I return.... :-)

Anonymous said...

Hello, I worked at Torpitt Lodge during the summers of 85,86 and 87. I used to work with Kevin or a Kevin and we were room mates in 86. He was a pot in 85 and worked outside in 86 and he had an older brother Norm, however I haven't been in touch with Kevin since 1988 or so. I came across this blog while I was looking for people from Torpitt and I think this must be the same Kevin I knew. Check out the Facebook group too. David.

shane said...

Do you mean Kevin Pickard?