It’s mid August and the signs of summer winding down are everywhere.
Back-to-school specials flood the airwaves and printed media, and parents exhibit that strange mix of sadness to see the season end and moments of delight to know they’ll soon have some time to themselves again…or so they hope, anyway.
Yesterday, a rag-tag band of summer castaways stopped in to visit. Two boys and two girls, ironically, each as tall as the next and all headed into the eighth grade within two weeks. I asked if they were sad that summer would be ending soon.
“Dude. I’m mad bored. Can’t wait for school to start,” says one with hair to here in skater clothes and shoes.
“I wanna see my friends,” said one of the girls. “But it means I have to go to bed earlier…no more sleeping in ‘til noon for me! “Can we get something to drink, Kevin” she asks.
“Sure,” I say, “Help yourself. You know where it is.”
They dropped their skateboards in place and head for the fridge, revealing the real reason for the visit. Coming back, as if in unison, they draped across the couches, boards on their laps and just sat there, sipping, saying nothing.
These were not the kids you see in the back-to-school circulars and ads. They looked hot and grubby and thoroughly happy with themselves. The “scrub-up fairies” for school had not caught up with them yet. They needed haircuts, even the girls. And one boy looked like he’d been doing his best to grow something on his face since last Christmas. More hair than beard for sure.
Skater merit badges
One boy had a nasty scabby mess from the side of his knee down to his ankle. “How’d that happen?” I asked.
And when he told me, that’s all it took… a tour guide’s explanation from each teen unfolded, explaining every scab and scar and where they came from and what trick they were attempting to master when they wiped out. They were so happy I asked. Secretly, I hoped they’d ask about my boyhood scars too. But of course they didn’t and instead got up to leave.
“Where you off to now?” I asked.
“My mother dropped us all off at Fort Rodman this morning,” said one of the boys. We skated along the beach on the bike path, then to Cushman School and now we’re headed to Taco Bell and then to UMASS. Tara’s mom is gonna pick us up there when we call.”
On the way out the boy with the hairy chin asked me when teen group was starting up again.
“September 12,” I said. “I’ll text or Facebook you and the rest of the group soon.”
“That’s cool… Later.”
No GPS required
I walked with them out to the parking lot to see them off. Without breaking their stride or even bending they dropped their boards, hoped on and off they went in unison, the same way they came in. Their wheels echoed off the stone wall behind Town Hall on one side and the parked cars on the other, creating a little roar of four until they rounded the corner and skated out of sight. Not one looked back or said goodbye…a skater thing, too cool for old dudes and giving up emotion.
The sight and sounds made me smile as I walked back to my office. Returning to my desk I spotted a note on the white board that read, “Kevin, thank you for the drinks. see you soon <3, Tara.”