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The weather, man.
We had a 3-day stretch of unseasonable perfection in these parts — 80 degrees and windy, like vacation, like Hatteras, as if just beyond our treeline was the wafting of Atlantic’s salty air and not our neighbor’s trash bins. If I squinted hard enough, I swore I could hear seagulls.
And then it rained for two weeks and away they flew.
A Midwestern summer is hard-earned, hard-fought. It plays hard to get until it doesn’t.
Ken and I have slept in separate zip codes for a good portion of the month, the relational equivalent of a rainy season in May. It’s not ideal, of course, swapping children and calendars, sandwiching an “I love you” text between work meetings and flight itineraries.
But it’s made our time together, here at home, that much more sweet.
Tonight, S’mores are on the menu.
Bee’s been asking for them – the great inaugural summer S’more – and we’d already made a grocery run for ingredients. But there are clouds, threats of rain. A S’more right now, this very evening, would be largely inconvenient. We’d be rained out in what, two minutes? Three? In the time it takes for a marshmallow to toast?
But when life feels full, when the moments feel fleeting, you don’t wait for convenience.
You start a fire under the clouds.
Ken gets to work on the kindling, I grab the graham crackers. I balance Scout on my hip as Bee bites off a chocolate rectangle, threads a stick through the center of her plump marshmallow. There’s just enough time to kick our feet up, to lock eyes, to finish a sentence or two.
And then the thunder arrives.
In three minutes, the rain will fall and the fire will smoke, disappearing into thin black air.
But not before Ken will hand me the perfect S’more, stacked just to my liking.
(I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Love is never having to explain your S’more ratio. It’s not called a S’less, you know.)
And as the raindrops fall onto my wet sandals, I realize it’s the best S’more I’ve ever had.
Midwest summers are gone in a flash, like the lightning bugs we chase to keep in 7up bottles by our bed. They arrive as quickly as they leave, with little warning, all sunburned shoulders and side cramps in the pool. Your grandmother’s famous shrimp dip. Your faded swimsuit. Your first summer love.
It’s all achingly perfect. It’s all achingly temporary.
So we celebrate it, rain or shine.
We live it. We start the fire, we build the S’more, we let the rain cool the embers as we run inside to scrub sticky marshmallows from our fingertips.
Here we are, all of us in the same zip code. Here we are, together. Plus S’mores.
There is nothing else.
There will be sun, soon enough. There will be BBQs and pool parties. The chlorine will green our hair, the sun will beckon our freckles. There will be bike rides and skateboards and fishing. Slugs in the garden, concerts in the park. Indiana tomatoes so ripe and earthy we bite into them like apples, juice running down our chins.
But tonight, there is rain. And tomorrow, rain.
I suppose we can decide to live anyway. With dampened Birks, with lightened hearts.
This essay was written for Zappos.com, a brand I love for super-speedy shipping, simple returns and incredible customer service. My favorite go-to summer Birkenstocks are available right this way. Thanks for reading!