The flags along Forsyth whip lazily back and forth in the late afternoon breeze from the harbor while the summer sun slides down the sky, like the ice cream slowly dripping down the side of a little girl’s waffle cone. She’s standing next to the reflecting pool with her dad, watching her reflection ripple and giggling as he makes faces at her in the water. She wants to hold his hand, but hers is covered in vanilla ice cream. She licks a sprinkle off her pinky before it falls onto her pants and smiles up at her dad in triumph – it doesn’t matter that a few drops have already made their way from her chin onto the collar of her pink polo.
My parents split in 1996. At the age of two, I became that kid with the divorced parents who spent every other weekend with her dad. My family was concerned that my parents had “set me up for failure” or that my ideas about love and healthy relationships had been forever flawed. Divorce isn’t the greatest thing you can do for a kid, but I’m here to say that it’s really not the worst thing in the world either.
For my entire life up until this point, summer break was it. It was the motivation for finishing school and working hard and pushing through exams. Three more weeks, one more week, two days, and finally, summer break. Three months that included trips to the beach, the lake and the river, new friends, summer loves and most importantly: freedom.
I was five when I got my first library card. It was green and beige and I got to “sign” the back – clear evidence of my terrible kindergarten handwriting. My mom and I would take weekly trips there, a bag load of books hanging from her shoulder and an eager kid with a gap-toothed smile pulling on her arm to get inside.
It’s Wednesday night, roughly 6 p.m. The slightly crooked brown door is open, the dusty wood floors reflecting light from the open windows. I arrive, drop my bag and set up for the night, joking with the deputy news editor (Maxim) about clichéd writing and maxi dresses.