Nostalgia is the Food of Summer
An ode to sun soaked freedom
I hate watermelon.
Lemonade is too tangy.
When I was twelve we visited a museum and I saw how hot dogs were made. I haven’t eaten one since.
Even s’mores, though delicious, make my OCD heart anxious with their sticky mess.
Food is any nutritious substance that we eat or drink to maintain life and growth.
And for me, summer’s most iconic food, isn’t food at all.
It’s the taste of freedom.
The smell of sun warmed rocks.
The tang of river silt clinging to tanned skin.
Sunscreen squirting hot out of the tube.
It’s nostalgia, pure and clean and consumed in doses of serotonin so bright it sticks to your bones through winter.
The food of summer is how your body eats the adrenaline that spikes your blood as you stand, feet burning on a hot boulder, gathering the courage to jump off into the lake.
It’s drinking down the anticipation of finding the perfect grassy spot to watch fireworks.
Summer’s substance is the taste of your hair whipping into your mouth, your head out the window as your best friend drives down back roads and country music blasts from your favorite playlist.
The nutrition of summer, the thing that gives us life and growth, is making memories. First kisses and first love. It’s sidewalk chalk and green citronella spirals burning down. It’s embers hissing from a midnight bonfire, the pops and cracks of glowing wood echoing faintly into a future that feels impossibly far away because the present is so raw and sharp you could bleed from it.
We all have that summer. For me, I was fifteen. I was in unrequited love. We picked blackberries, the thorns pricking our fingers as blood mingled with bright purple juice. I don’t remember the food. I remember the feeling. The flip of my stomach as I watched him walk out of the river, water droplets slipping off his skin and thinking this is it, forever.
The food of summer is freedom. And youth. And heartbreak so hot it cauterizes. Even now, the memories slice through me, grating against my skin like lemon zest, burning but delicious, tangy but sweet. A smile like remembrance stretches across my face. It starts slow and then turns my cheeks to apples. I couldn’t stop it if I tried. And I don’t want to. Because summer is what sustains us, the memories that fuel our future. It’s the hope we cling to as we try to recreate it for our own children. That elusive but ever-present longing for simplicity we can only grasp when our responsibilities fall away like dominoes under the scorching sun.
Summer isn’t the taste of a cold beer but the condensation dripping down the glass and the way your palm forms to the bottle.
It’s not the too sweet pulp of watermelon, but the sound of a sharp knife slicing through its rind and the juice turning your fingers sticky.
Summer isn’t the sour tang of fresh squeezed lemonade, but the echo of laughter as you race to fill your basket the fastest and sugar granules spilled on the counter while you stir.
The ultimate summer recipe:
One dash of freedom
Three drops of laughter (one for each month)
A squeeze of sunshine
A healthy dose of heartache
Two miles of asphalt to ride your bike down (with no hands)
A sprig of romance
Two handfuls of joy (because you can’t hold much more)
Stir together with berry stained fingers and let sit for maximum effect. Consume years later to bring back the mouthwatering memories of what it meant to be young and in love with the food of summer.
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About the author
I'm an agented author with IGLA, writing short stories and sharing traditional publishing/querying how to's while my book is on submission. Thanks for stopping by!
Find me on Instagram @houseofrandall
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
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