When I think of the summers of my youth, the ones that stand out -- by far -- are the ones my family spent with another family or group of families. It's not that my sister, mom, dad and I didn't have really great times with just the four of us -- of course we did -- but there was just something very special about spending time with cousins, aunts and uncles, or people close enough to be cousins, aunts and uncles.
See, whenever we got together with other families, my parents were so busy having fun with their friends, they didn't really care much about what my sister and I were up to with our friends, so long as nothing got broken (including, though not necessarily especially, our own bones). Given this, whether we were visiting our extended family or renting a house with one or more other families, my sister and I had a hell of a lot more leeway than usual: we'd take off with our cousins (or people-close-enough-to-be-cousins), exploring for miles (even though back home our parents wouldn't have let us circle the block without them); or, better still, we'd eat food that was seriously bad for us without so much as a sideways glance from our mom (despite our 3-Oreo-cookie-maximum rule that was usually strictly enforced, violation of which was punishable by death -- or, you know, the restriction of TV privileges).
And when night fell, all us kids would stay up until the wee hours of the night (even though we usually had strict bedtimes), listening to our parents' laughter and the clinking of their after-dinner beverages. We'd whisper and try to giggle quietly so as not to attract any attention, but even if we did, the most we'd get is a "YOU GUYS ASLEEP UP THERE?" yelled up at us, without even the slightest bit of reprisal if we weren't.
Yup: vacations with other families meant freedom.
This week, my sister and her family have been in Houston visiting my mom and dad, so Marcus, Alex and I have been spending every spare moment at my parents' house. As soon as we arrive, Alex strips down to her swimsuit and she and her cousins disappear to play for hours in the pool; and my sister and/or my dad whip up a few cocktails for us to enjoy poolside (dude, we're Trinidadian -- immediate cocktails are imperative when we get together, it's in our blood). The week has been full of laughter and good food and good times, and Alex is already lamenting that her cousins leave tomorrow.
This summer has certainly turned out to be the Summer of Good Family Times, as this is the third such bonding-time-with-family-or-people-close-enough-to-be-family (the first two are here and here). And as we slip into the last month of summer, I'm incredibly grateful that Marcus and I have been able to connect with people special to us this year, and Alex has had a taste of real freedom with her own friends, while connecting with people special to her.
Because, I've learned, this is the way summer ought to be.
Happy Friday, and happy August, friends.
Song: The August Playlist. This playlist is a very accurate audio representation of what summer sounds like around my house these days. Simply click here or on the image below to listen. (And as always, you can click here to listen to all the previous playlists I've made.)
songs on this playlist (45 minutes)
Get lucky, Daft Punk
Thinking 'bout your love, Eat More Cake
Blurred lines, Robin Thicke
Lovers in the parking lot, Solange
I want you back, Lake Street Drive
Because of you, Ne-Yo
All the right places, Zach Heckendorf
Glorified high, Sarah Jaffe
Diablo rojo, Rodrigo y Gabriela