This is my perfect summer. The replacement for the summers I lost to post-natal depression. The summer I am owed. These are the lazy mornings when I can wake up slowly, feeling the fresh air from the open window on my skin, stretching my sleep-heavy arms and legs and snuggling close to whichever of my children has decided to pay me an early-morning visit and then fallen asleep again.
These are the sun-drenched days I get to spend on the beach with my kids, seeing the eldest one splashing about in the waves with her friends, watching the middle one building dams and canals in the sand, holding the baby as she experiments with the water. Then snatching a moment to myself to drift aimlessly in the clear sparkling water, my body nearly weightless, rocked by the eternal rhythm of the sea, like the breath of the world.
These are the long, hot afternoons made for sleep, when we stumble upstairs, tired from the beach and drowsy from our big midday meal. Curled on the bed in a nest of beautiful, sweaty children, I doze and listen to the cicadas outside – the only sound in a village stupified by the bright sun and blazing heat.
These are the long, warm evenings when the light fades slowly from the sky. We go out for drinks and ice cream in the village cafeterias, or visit the ancient village playground to hang out with our friends. We walk through the winding streets and alleyways, greeting everyone we meet, to play in the big square at the top of the hill. We hang out with our cousins, or hitch a ride to our uncle’s piece of land near the sea, where we barbecue and drink and talk late into the night, watching the stars come out and listening to the distant swish of the waves on the shore.
These are the song-lyric, movie-poster, Instragram-worthy days of my perfect summer. The days of sunlight that are compensation for my days of darkness, where the living, where just living, is finally easy.
My grandma used to sing me that song – Summertime from Porgy and Bess – when I was little. I’ve sung it to all my babies, even though I’ve never actually seen the show. I think it’s the perfect lullaby, and the perfect soundtrack to my summer. I won’t say I want this summer to last forever … I wouldn’t want to stay here in the village for too long – there’s too much world out there. I wouldn’t want to keep my kids from their schools where they have so much fun, or give up my job and let my husband earn all the money. But for a summer, this is heaven … and when the time comes we will leave with the swallows. Not with sadness or regret, but with gratitude that we spent these hazy summer days together, and with excitement for the next chapter in our lives.