Summer of 69

Angie Warren

I couldn’t tell you why we were out that night, the two of us. I can’t recall where we were headed, but I can tell you the way the air made me feel. It was a sticky sensation, tangible in the way that if I could have, I’d have bottled it up to revisit in coming seasons.

There was a sweetness to the breeze, a perfume blend of residual cook-outs, lilac bushes, and a nearby campfire, and I was filled with the comforts of my childhood. That summertime air was in my lungs and through my hair, it was both a swirl of romance and a breath of stillness.

I was thirteen years old that summer, and my world felt complete. I knew little of what else was out there, I knew not of loss or pain, I knew nothing of the gut-wrenching sting my adult years would bring. What I knew, what surrounded me, was everything good. It was my mother and father, my three siblings. It was middle school friendships and Aqua-net hairspray. What encircled me were the familiarities of being the child of a pastor, a homemaker’s daughter. These were the things I knew to be true, these were the things that became my identity.

His window was down, my dad’s, and his arm shot straight out to his left. I watched from the passenger seat, a smile framed my face as his hand cruised up and down, in a wave-like motion. He liked the air too.

Bryan Adams crooned through the speakers, something about the summer of ’69, and I couldn’t help but sing, “the summer of ’95.” My dad laughed. I laughed and rested my head back on the seat. His arm came in from the summer’s night, one hand on the wheel, one turning the knob, making the volume so loud I couldn’t make out my own voice. Music was his pastime, and I’ll forever hear the melodies of my childhood and smile at the thought of him, of my daddy.

That drive through town would be a memory that, in years to come, would ground me. The slow cruise down Main Street, turning right past the QuickStop, weaving over hills and passing the homes of his own upbringing, that ride would sit within the depths of my heart and remind me of better days. In the years to come, I’d turn the knob of my own volume up, letting Bryan Adams serenade me through some of the more difficult days. That song, like so many others, would act as a salve, taking me back to that summer of ’95, back to a time when all I knew to be true, was true.

I didn’t know what summers were like in ’69, but I knew what the summers were like in the 80s and 90s. They were filled with the sweetness of watermelon dripping down my chin. Summer meant later bedtimes and chasing lightning bugs. They were church camps and roasting marshmallows, summer was fishing and bathing suits. It meant dirt-stained feet and suntan lines.

Summer was driving through the hills of St. Clairsville, Ohio with my daddy. His smile, my braces, our shared love of music. Summer, to me, has always been, the best part of this life.

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