The Last Day of School

The last day of school. The first time the meaning of those words hits me is when I've just finished third grade. There is a wordless, excited buzzing that sings in my head and makes me giddy. I can see the summer extending before me - An eternity of Popsicles and fireflies, of lying in grassy fields and feeling the earth rising up to hold me. I am riding my bicycle, my Huffy two-speed with the turquoise sparkle paint and the cushy banana seat with the psychedelic daisies, around and around and around the block. First I'm riding with a pack of friends, and we're all yelling raucously "No more homework, No more books, No more teachers, dirty looks!!" and feeling like rebels.

Slowly the pack has dwindled and I am left alone in the twilight of a warm June night. The air is just a little cool, and smells green. The light is that golden light that only happens early in the morning and just before the sun goes down. Painter's light, but I don't know that yet. There are so many things I don't know yet. But, I do how it feels to be eight years old and completely free. To feel like I'm riding a hundred miles an hour, the wind in my face, whipping my hair. To feel like I can do just about anything. I take my hands off the handlebars, and ride no -hands for just a second, practically dizzy with my daring and I let out a whoop of pure joy.

Now that I'm grown, I don't often get the chance to experience that unfettered elation that I felt so many last-days-of-school ago. But every once in a while, every once in a great while, and only in the evening, and only in the early summer, when the light is golden and the night smells green, I might see a kid on a bicycle and it will happen again. I'll suddenly remember out-of the blue, what it feels like to be eight years old on the last day of school. And in a instant I'll be perched on the daisy-strewn banana seat of a glittering turquoise bicycle with the wind in my face riding no-hands into the sunset of my memory, secure in the knowledge that tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my summer. The first day of the rest of my life.

And you know, it doesn't get much better than that.

[ Karen Driscoll, Copyright © 2002 ( -- from '2THEHEART' ]


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