I was born in Eternal Summer, but after college in the early 90s, I packed up and moved to the Land of Rain. Grunge on the airwaves and flannel the style, a gray sky matched our melancholy moods. We were the newest tribe of grown-ups in the decade of Smells Like Teen Spirit.
My husband and I met in Land of Rain, just after he moved here from Midwest Farmland. We fell in love, had two kids, built a house and started to make a life. Four months after we settled into the home slated to be ours forever, a career-advancing job offer convinced us to sell and move the family back to where I spent the years of my childhood and adolescence .
Eternal summer was coming! I became giddy in anticipation of sunshine every day. I missed warmth. The damp and cold had been seeping into my bones a little too deeply. When the chance came, I wanted out.
We made the move South in January and entered Eternal Summer during one of the worst rain storms in history. Was this a sign? After a few days clouds passed. My skin received the sun’s welcome like a long, lost friend. Why did I ever leave?
Shorts and flip-flops made up our wardrobes. Our daughters, ages 5 and 3, had permanent white tattoos – the shape of bikinis – upon their bronzed skin. Neither left the house without sunglasses or they’d pay with headaches due to squinting out the brightness. Play-dates at amusement parks came to be as common as play-dates in the neighborhood park.
Soon though, I recalled why I left Eternal Summer in the first place.
Thousands of vehicles crowded the streets of Eternal Summer, traffic keeping you hours from your destination. Strip malls and cement lined the ten-lane freeway mazes. Hazy smog prevented pure skies and the corresponding landscape on the ground was dull, save for the well-placed palm trees spaced evenly apart.
Heading to the shore became infrequent. It came to mean loading up a day’s worth of food and toys and towels and chairs, and parking a mile away only to trudge all of said belongings to hopefully land a spot on the hot sand. This lost its appeal quickly. More days were spent at the pool, but even then for a mother it was more taxing than relaxing, ensuring offspring remained safe around the chlorinated water.
One afternoon while paying for my groceries, the clerk made small talk.
Are you from here?
Yes and no, I replied, I grew up here, moved North, and now we’re back.
Aren’t you totally stoked? he asked. I could never live anywhere else.
Where else have you been?
Nowhere, he admitted, I’ve never been north of L.A.
I left, feeling pity for this clerk. He’d never experienced living room movie nights, family huddled together on the sofa during rainy Springs.
He’d never watched the leaves explode into brilliant colors before falling off limbs.
He never experienced the joy of waking up to a winter wonderland, hearing “School is closed for the day!” and sledding down hills in the neighborhood.
He’d never felt Summer as a gift from God, where every resident must be outdoors soaking up every bit of brightness and heat mindful this time precious. Folks living in Land of Rain do not take late-June through August for granted.
And it was then I realized: I didn’t want my daughters growing up without seasons. They needed to live through the changing sky, the re-defining landscape, the emotions of dark versus light. I feared my desire for them to grow as individual and varied as Spring, Fall, and Winter would be hindered by the surrounding messages to conform as though everything needed to be Summer all of the time.
After only two years living in Eternal Summer, we returned to Land of Rain. Sometimes, I long for warmth I once knew. I wish to rid the amount of gear in which I’m clad to simply walk the dog.
However, once the mutt and I are on the trail surrounded by evergreens, small wildlife and friendly neighbors also bundled up but not too miserable for a smile and a wave, I’m filled with gratitude of all around me. For in Spring, I see new growth. In Fall, I reflect with the changing color of the leaves. In Winter, I hibernate. But in Summer, when the sun shines in the Land of Rain, I savor the orb’s rays and am reminded not to take any blessing for granted. In seasons, I can appreciate changes life brings.
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“Eternal Summer” was written by Andee Zomerman. Andee is a teacher, minister, radio host, and writer who cannot decide what to be when she grows up. She has moved up and down the West Coast with her husband and two daughters, now making their home in Portland, OR. Andee spends her days encouraging others to volunteer in their communities via her blog, Nature of a Servant. She’s always on Facebook and tweets under @andeezomerman.