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  • my memories of summer as a child come mostly through color.

    each long summer day was spent from sun up to sun down in the large pool behind our house. centered in the sprawling backyard of golden-yellow, dry California grass, the turquoise water begged for all's attention. the hard splintered texture of the surrounding grass was painful to walk over barefoot, and reminded us of the seasons' relentless heat. as the sun burned through every pore of the body, the smooth, quiet water begged for noise. slicing into its' cool depths always brought that distinct flash of pleasure and relief throughout the body. slowly floating back to the top, arms and legs motionless, I opened my eyes underwater already knowing what I would see. sun rays sparkled through the water like diamonds, and through this, only blue sky. a gray slab of concrete bordered around the perimeter of the pool, allowing for a place to relax between the two extremes.
    when the sun's heat made it unbearable for skin to touch the hard ground, we soaked the ground with water, giving us relief. it was a quick resolution, but the heat made sure it didn't last, absorbing and drying out the ground hotter than it was before.

    normal summer temperature in our small farming town ranged from 100 to 110. one week it was up to 118, draining the mind of all the day's plans and requirements.
    everything just seemed so much more saturated and tense under the sun.

    my dad circled the large property on his green lawnmower, wearing only swim shorts and a straw hat. the droning of the machine became a sound we got used to. his white skin was always sure to turn more red with every passing row.
    my mom found shade under the large maple tree that constantly dropped its dead leaves onto the hard ground. the leaves eventually found relief as they soaked down into the water. my mom would never leave the shade if she could. sometimes her dark legs found the warmth from the bright sun, but she refused to expose the rest of her body directly. hoping that if she stayed in the shade some whiteness would eventually come through. she would watch my sister and I, and sometimes our two older brothers, as we swam and thrashed our bodies around under the sun's spell.
    my dad would sometimes surprise us with a huge cannonball into the pool, bringing unexpected fits of laughter and a rush of happiness within all us kids.
    he went back to work in the vineyard and my mom stayed under the tree. his sudden contact with the cold water seemed to ease the tension between him and my mom for a bit, but the heat made sure to absorb that as well.

    each summer my sister lauren and mines' naturally beige complexion quickly turned a dark ochre brown, with highlights of red; the places never treated with sunscreen. we were enthralled with our changing skin tone, showing off our dark skin while trying to hide the whiteness that was underneath our bathing suits. we felt proud of our dark skin as we began to look more similar to our mom.

    each day of changing skin tone brought along a feeling of connectivity with an identity which I always thought I was missing during the other long 3 seasons.

    when my mom’s tall, dark yugoslavian family came to visit, they said we were fresh off the boat. as they praised our darkness, my moms fading skin color was put up for questioning.

    i didn't know until later, but my mom and i both spent our summers trying to achieve the exact same thing. just with different results in mind.

    as the summer days wore on, and the sun made its' way behind the vast mountains, the bright blue sky we had become so accustomed to turned to shades of purple and pink. my dad cooked dinner in his bright red swim shorts, filling the outdoor barbeque with a feast of food. all the bright colored vegetables became marked with desired patches of browns and blacks, and we could smell when the meat and bread were grilled to perfection.

    the heat from the day lingered a bit as all the colors outside began to fade.
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