The summer of ’95

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the summer of ’95.

Sure, it doesn’t have the same ring as the summer of ’69, and no it wasn’t the year I got my first six-string, though I did visit a 5 and Dime all summer. But I digress.

The summer of 1995 was the summer I was 12. It was a summer filled with independence in a way I hadn’t really experienced to that point.

Sure, I had spent past summers out of the house all day, crawling around playgrounds and abandoned construction sites with the kids of the neighbourhoods I lived in, but this summer was different. This was the summer I felt like I was becoming someone.

I felt like I was changing, even if those breasts I desperately wanted were taking their sweet time coming in. This was the summer I spent sitting outside the 7-11 with an popsicle or slushie in one hand, and a teen magazine, or three, in front of me.

It was the summer of countless quizzes to find out if he liked me, what kind of girlfriend I was, and what kind of friend I was. It was the summer of cute cover boys staring back at me from the glossy front pages of Seventeen, YM and Teen.

I read all the real-life stories from girls who were just like me. Except they were older. And had boyfriends. And were American. And likely had boobs. But you know, just like me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that summer because my half-sister gets to experience her summer as a 12-year-old this year. Next year, she’ll be in Grade 8. And then she’ll be off to high school, but this summer, she doesn’t have to worry about any of that. She just gets to be her.

I sometimes wish I could be 12 years old all over again. That I could tell myself to slow down, and stop worrying so much. I wish I could tell that girl who wanted a boyfriend so badly that none of that even matters. I wish I could tell her the boobs would eventually come in, but I wouldn’t want her to get disappointed later.

This summer as I walk by the gaggles of 12-year-old girls who are loose on the streets of my small town, I’ll give them a smile. I’ll remember what it was like to be just like them, to have the world at my feet.

And I’ll wish for them that they’ll never lose that feeling.