As I sit here tonight, alternating between reading Plato’s Republic and my Facebook, I drift back to the summers of my childhood. My eyes glaze over, and Socrates’ wisdom gets lost in long-forgotten days of lazy summers spent swimming with my cousins. Facebook fails to jolt me back into present-day happenings. The lure of my childhood is just too strong. What could be drawing me away from my college dorm in early September? Why do I find myself splashing in the pool in a hot July day of the late 90s? Two words, my friends: root beer.
Yep. That’s all it takes to send me rocketing back to the days of my 5-year-old self giggling by the pool and getting soaked by my cousins. The boys grab water guns, blow water out of pool noodles, and create mini-tsunamis that leave me looking a bit like a drowned rat. We scramble out of the pool, rush to dry off, and crowd around the table to inhale PB&Js, potato chips, and root beer. One of them steals my Cheetos. I grab for them and suddenly my cookies are gone. I wail as they hastily replace my stolen lunch. They wouldn’t want to get in trouble with Mom! I smirk.
We finish eating. Though we clamor to get back in the pool, mothers insist we wait a half-hour. We content ourselves to sprawl on the lawn or run through the sprinkler. If we’re at a cousin’s place, we might play video games for a bit. At my house, we’d maybe watch a TV show. Then it’s back to the pool and more giggles and splashing.
Of course, sometimes we’d go to a community pool together. Aunts and cousins and moms and siblings all splashing around with each other. We’d go for rides on adults’ backs through the whirlpool. Maybe, if I was brave, we’d jump off the springboard or climb all the way up to the big slide! Then it was back to the changing rooms, shivering in the AC, to dry off and go home.
Why does root beer remind me of summer? Why is that soda the defining beverage of my childhood? I’m not entirely sure. But tonight, as I sat sipping my root beer in my dorm room, I was transported to my past. Turning to my roommate, I asked, “Is it just me, or does root beer remind you of being a kid?” Surprisingly, she felt the same as I. So I am left to muse… Could root beer be the universal soda of childhood? Or is it orange soda, or maybe Sprite? What is it that makes a certain soda so impressionable? Why do I remember being little when I’m soaking up that sweet, brown concoction? Will I someday look back on my teenage years and term Mountain Dew the beverage of my adolescence? So many questions… too many for a night when Plato must be read. Maybe another time. For now, I will leave my happy memories with my questions and return to the world where books are hard and sleep is rare.
Dios te bendiga. =)