Bring Back… Summer Holidays

When you are 10, summer holidays stretch on forever.  Everything shimmers.  Even the boredom.  There’s nothing on TV but Days of Our Lives and Huey, with his bronchial chuckle, cooking up a fatty, caloric mound of chicken & sauce. 

You’ve long ago read everything you borrowed from the library.  You sneakily polished off Dad’s sci-fi books, the ones you aren’t supposed to read because they’re too grown up with their topless aliens and leprotic humans, copulating and spawning freak babies… you’ve even, in your desparation, read the back of all the shampoo bottles – twice.  And if you even say “mu-“, let alone “muuuu-uum”, one more time you’re absolutely certain to cop a wooden spoon fair across the leg (clearly, long before ‘summer fun activities’ became de rigueur and a deserved thwak became passe).

A viscous slick of sweat runs down your back.   The air is stifling and thick with heat.  It’s hot.  The piercing wail of the sun hits you upside the head, like that moment when you have one more mouthful of tequila, you know, the one too many.

You sit in the fork of a tree eating sticky half-frozen oranges and dreaming of a grown-up life.  Imagine being able to do whatever you want.  Not being told what to do.  Never being bored.  Never waiting around.  Imagine being rich.  Living in a big house with a double-bed and modular lounge.  Imagine putting on make-up and going out to a restaurant, eating souffle and drinking champagne.   This is the adult-life you imagine that YOU will have. 

The heat of the day is still clinging to you when Dad finally comes home and succumbs to your pleading for a swim at Nana’s.  You pack into the car, sweat running down your neck, your back and onto the vinyl so you can slip around and along the back seat like a stubby water slide.   You refuse to allow the air-conditioner to be turned on and all windows must remain closed so that when you get to Nana’s you’re practically fainting from heatstroke but the water feels jarringly, teeth-achingly cold.  

You keep your head underwater and listen to the muffled sounds.  Water slapping, neighbours yelling, magpies growling.  Just like every movie ever made about kids on school holidays.  That glow and glisten.  That squeal and squelch. 

This moment.  This is the highlight.  This is the break in the agony of the summer.  It’s as good as it gets.  Tomorrow will be the same long, stretching boredom.

Torturous summer holidays are gone forever.  But nothing really changes.  You know that slow burn on a Friday afternoon from about 2 o’clock… when the day just won’t end?  Instead of 6 weeks or 8 weeks or even a day, now it’s compressed into an excruciating couple of hours.  When all you can think about is a glass of champagne and a bloody souffle!