Realizing How a Single Moment Can Abruptly End a Series of Good Memories

Ruth Shikanov

As a kid, I loved summer. 

I would go to summer camp with sunscreen smeared all over my face and a backpack barely zipped up, a large beach towel and swim goggles poked through. Typically, my family and I would have a trip in August and our vacations always meant good food, overpriced souvenirs and plenty of sightseeing. Always eager to play outside, I’d pry open our old and tricky backyard door and as it swung open, I would run towards the tree I had climbed over and over again. Nestled comfortably between a couple branches, I would get lost in my imagination, listening to all the sounds of my backyard and beyond; my neighbor’s restless schnauzer; parties of birds flying overhead; the sound of water trickling slowly onto the pavement from our bright green garden hose. 

But eventually, I grew out of summer camp, or rather it grew out of me. Accepting it was my last year as a camper at 11 years old, I felt the magic of summer slip away. I trudged forward with the summer while it lasted, with daily trips to the pool and popsicles melting all over my skin.

As much as I loved being outside and feeling the warm rays on my skin, something I never liked about summer was the humidity, especially during the night. 

As the sun would set, I would lie in my bed with my sheets parallel to me — it was always too hot to actually sleep under them. Overheated and bored, I focused on the sounds of crickets and frogs which echoed in my room. Frustrated that their sounds kept me up, I tried to think of anything that would put me to sleep. I counted sheep and imagined what a perfect day would be. I even stole one of my mom’s old sleeping masks, but despised how the fabric felt on my face. By now, the simple task of falling asleep was deemed impossible; I was still wide awake. Accepting defeat, I sat up and stared into the backyard. It was dark, but I could still see the pond, seeing the swarm of lightning bugs illuminate the water. Tilting my head up, I traced an outline of the large tree centered right in the center of the backyard with my eyes. The chirps of the crickets and croaks of the frogs grew even louder. 

Suddenly, I felt sick. To be honest, I don’t really know what happened. But I remember feeling like there was a heavy weight on my chest and breathing became difficult. It felt like all the childlike innocence in me evaporated.