As a child summer meant being out of school, running bare foot, eating watermelon, chasing the ice cream man’s truck and going to the local pool for hours on end. It meant traveling to my grandparent’s houses in Little Rock and Texarkana, AR with endless hours of fun catching fire flies, crawdads in the creek and playing spot light with the neighborhood kids. My favorite part of summer was going on vacation to Panama City Beach, FL with my family. Oh how I loved the beach! As a teenager summer meant pretty much the same things, except that the evenings were filled with hanging out with friends, talking on the phone till all hours with a boyfriend, watching movies and going to Six Flags, (every single summer), with the kids from my church youth group. As an adult in recent years, summer has been the time that my husband and I always look forward to my step daughters coming to stay with us for a month. All year long we look forward to the month of June and what kind of fun we will have soaking up every moment together.
We have made a habit of trying every year, (since moving to FL), to surprise the girls with a special family trip. In 2009 we surprised them by going to Epcot at Disney and Typhoon Lagoon! It was some kind of fun! While we were at Typhoon Lagoon we had just come off one of the water slides when I saw a young boy, (around age 10), coming off this slide looking very frustrated. He turned around to another boy with his hands clinched and the veins in his neck actually bulging a bit and exclaimed, “Well that’s just great! Ya wait in line for a whole HOUR just for a 10 second ride!” His friend inquired, “Well what do ya want to do now?” …and the boy said, “Let’s go get in line again!!!” And off they ran.
I got so tickled watching this event occur between these two kids, because I actually understood both the irritation of having to wait in line and the anticipation that made that hour long wait worth every bit of those 10 glorious seconds going down that slide! I immediately began to recall those trips to Six Flags during the hottest months of the summer in Atlanta, GA with my youth group. Waiting in lines that sometimes lasted as long as 2 hours or more for the really good rides, we would all complain as we stood in the suffocatingly inescapable sweltering humid heat, with nothing more than small fans attached to the corner ceilings blowing across the crowd of bodies crammed together like sardines… But once you got seated in that roller coaster…boy oh boy…it was ALWAYS worth the wait! You would have that moment to look back over the crowd of faces that were watching you with envy, anticipating their own turn…and it would feel great to know that you had at last…arrived! Sure enough though when it was over, it was always — on to the next line!
So as my husband and I went with my step daughters from line to line, with the girls chattering anxiously as they awaited the next exhilarating slide… I enjoyed the calming breeze of reminiscence that lingered as we spent what would be our last day together before they would return home to Alabama. I felt joy as I listened to the two of them excitedly lay out their summer plans day by day, week by week, from the time they returned home until the time they would return to school for what would be Charlie’s 7th grade year and Tatum’s first time in Middle School, (6th grade).
The next morning we got up early and went to the OrlandoAirport. I was painfully aware of the fact that what once seemed like the endless wait for them to arrive in FL to spend the month with us, was now the end of our journey and 10 second ride together. They of course realized this as well. The lines at the airport seemed to go extra fast, as did our time to sit and visit with each other. It was all happening much sooner than we would have liked. Tears began to flow as we gave each other our goodbye hugs and kisses and they boarded their flight. The endless wait for them to return… had once again begun.
Isn’t it funny how life is? When we are little all we want to do is grow up. It seems as if it will take forever! Then as we become adults, time begins to pass faster and faster as we find ourselves wanting the ability to slow it down, even just the smallest bit. Desiring as a teen to just reach the day when I could get out of my parent’s house and “live on my own” seemed to take forever…but now living almost 900 miles away – oh how I long for the time to just be with them, if even for the shortest while. When we embark on a new relationship with someone, it can seem that the moments together and apart feel endless…yet once you are married it seems that the days together go by entirely to fast. When we first begin the journey of sobriety, those first 30 days seem to last an eternity, yet at the point of several years you look back wonder where all the time has gone.
I suppose at this moment in my life, on such a warm sunny day, I am reflective of what a funny thing time is, and how much that hour long wait is totally worth the 10 second ride…because the real journey, the true depth of the experience is not in the ride – but in how I use the time leading up to it. Do I use it by making the most of every single minute, to enjoy and absorb each and every second? Or do I waste the time that I could be enjoying…to instead strain my neck, feverishly looking for the end of the line and yearning only for the 10 second ride its self? This life is a glorious journey and it is my prayer that one day at a time…one moment at a time…it will always be held precious and dear.
Rebecca Balko © 2009 – 2013