Summers have always been special to me. After all, I grew up by the beach. We may have lived in a tiny apartment in a rent-controlled high-rise across the train tracks from a violent slum, but just a half mile away stood Brighton Beach and the great blue paradise of the Atlantic Ocean. That’s where I spent my summers.

A towel, a rubber ball, and some friends. That was all we needed. OK, maybe some bikinis to look at and 50 cents for a Coke and a knish didn’t hurt. But still. It makes me sad to remember how little we needed to be happy, back then, considering how much we need to be miserable now.

Look, I don’t want this to sound like some drippy remake of Summer Nights from Grease, but summers in Brooklyn were just like that. The beach was a blast, but the nights could get pretty dramatic, especially once the hormones started coursing through our teenaged veins.

The funny thing is, I remember everything. The taste of saltwater. Digging in the sand. Discovering the miracle of a Frisbee. The teenage angst over my short, skinny frame. How great it felt to win a ballgame. Acne. Hanging with my best friend, Randy. Listening to rock & roll. Fireworks over the ocean. First kisses, first dates, and all that. The ugly but inevitable fights.

Lived through the eyes of a crazy kid, I know that every day could not possibly have been as magic and tragic as it seemed at the time. Still, those memories are intact. To me, to this day, they feel so real. Though the sands of time have buried so many memories, for whatever reason, those still seem impossibly real.

To me, summers feel very much the same.

Image credit Nicole June Flickr