But it’s not only kids who thrive on time travel.
Time dissolves in summer anyway: days are long, weekends longer. Hours get all thin and watery when you are lost in the book you’d never otherwise have time to read. Senses are sharper — something about the moist air and bright light and fruit in season — and so memories stir and startle. Go on vacation with your siblings; you will be back in the treehouse of code words and competitions and all the rough rivalries of those we love but do not choose as family.
I am more likely to read trashy books, eat sloppy food, go barefoot, listen to the Allman Brothers, nap and generally act like I’m 16 than I’d ever be in the dark days of February. Return to a childhood haunt, the campground, the carnival, and let the season serve as a measuring stick, like notches on the kitchen doorway: the last time you walked this path, swam this lake, you were in love for the first time or picking a major or looking for work and wondering what comes next. The past was plump with questions whose answers you now know, and summer is when we get to review the exam and make corrections.
And then having gone back, touched base, found our firm foundations, we flip the hourglass and travel forward. Summer is also the season of the college visit — and on the way to Mr. Woodman’s idyll, my daughter and I did our first, the 16-year-old with the learner’s permit driving through winding country roads to arrive at campuses that invite her to imagine herself in new dimensions: the philosophy major, the actress, the astronomer. As I watched her, in wonder and envy at what lay ahead, I remembered that any of us can ask the same questions about what comes next: What do we want to learn? Who shall we be when we grow up? Because it’s summer now, and it’s never too late to change majors.