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?