What were some your favorite things about summer as a kid?
In the summertime, my parents would send us away to our relatives, who would take us to all sorts of places and have something for us to do almost every day. My relatives didn’t have kids of their own so they were able to spoil us when my parents handed us over for the summer and school holidays. I was my grandpa’s favorite and he would take me for walks with him around the Bronx neighborhood a lot when I was a kid. He would always carry quarters with him and I would go on every quarter machine ride we’d find on our way, and I would get a Sailor Moon ice cream every time we were lucky enough to catch the ice cream truck. This is also probably why the littlest things like an ice cream treat make me happy.
Summertime meant free time to watch new movies, and my relatives would spoil us with new clothes and shoes when they took us to Jersey for tax-free outlet shopping. They would take us to Coney Island in the evenings when they got out of work (I rode the Cyclone once and I swear I thought I was going to die afterwards, lmao. It was the scariest experience of my life as a kid.) They would take us to Chinatown for dinner. We’d get to watch more than just basic cable because my relatives actually paid for more than 13 channels. Summer is the only time I got to watch Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. And we got to play video games because one of my uncles owned all the systems.
And towards the end of summer, my parents would pick us up a few weeks early before school started. In my old hometown the local fire department always held a fair every summer around this time to raise money. I remember begging my mom every year to go and she would try to save up just a little bit of money for a few rides for all us kids. I feel bad now looking back because it was super selfish of me with how much my parents struggled to raise 4 kids (the baby wasn’t a thought yet.) and here I was always wanting them to waste money on silly little things for leisure when here they were just trying to SURVIVE. A POP ride bracelet isn’t crazy expensive but it is when you have 4 kids. So my mom would only buy the single ride tickets and we would have to deliberate amongst us which rides were worth it. We never played carnival games because my mom thought they were a waste of money and rigged. And in retrospect, she was right. Those carnie toys are cheap China toys. Sometimes she would spoil us and get us cotton candy and ice cream (see recurring theme here). Some summers, my relatives came with us and they would love to go all out. They bought us all ride bracelets and played all the games. They were used to this because of all our Coney Island trips when we stayed with them. I think it embarrassed my mother sometimes because of how hard she struggled to save to spoil us and my relatives would swoop in and make her look bad like she was holding back on us or something. I feel bad because as a kid, you simply don’t understand the struggles of money. You just think your parents are trying to rain on your parade as you play ungrateful. As adults now, my siblings and I are trying to make up for it by taking our parents out to dinner and nice places whenever all our schedules can line up. And as adults, we now spoil our youngest sibling a lot, wanting her to have the experiences and life we missed out on when funds were low. It does feel good though, paying it back and being able to provide for your loved ones that struggled to take care of you as you grew up, and treating the younger ones to a better life than you had so they will want for nothing.
All these trips as a kid developed my love for these traveling bright lights. I still enjoy fairs whenever I get a chance to go to one. A few weekends ago I went to the Brookhaven Fair with some friends and it was an eye opening experience as to how much I’ve changed from a bright-eyed child who wanted to go on every ride, to a bitchass now with a true fear of heights, death and dying, hahaha. Thanks a lot, Final Destination.
I remember discovering the Gravitron and thinking it was the most amazing thing ever. When I rode my first Ferris wheel and the umbrella version that goes on an angle, I decided then and there they were terrifying, hahaha. I loved the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Himalaya. For some reason I enjoyed the swings back then but now as an adult, being that high and that long in the air gives me major anxiety. I’ll ride it but halfway through I’ll wonder why the hell did I get on this thing again. If I think about it, every ride is essentially the same, it’s just a ride that spins in a circle at various speeds and variations. But I still love them. No matter how simple or basic. Like the carousel. I’ll always love carousels. There’s something nostalgic and fun about them. Bumper cars, I’m bitter about it because being a short person my entire life, it took me forever to grow to have long enough legs to reach the pedals to drive my own damn car. It’s no fun riding passenger for years, let me tell you. Another ironic ride I loved were the motorcycles. The fake motorcycle ride that goes around in a circle and lifts the front wheel off the ground for a split second. I thought they were so cool. And then as an adult riding a real motorcyle is a lot scarier. My husband has one and every time I ride with him, I’m always terrified, like this is it, this is how I go as he goes full speed ahead.
There are definitely a few rides I never went on and have no interest in, as they looked terrifying back then and are still terrifying today. Like the Zipper, the Fireball, the Slingshot, and the Kamikaze. Those were all NOPES from me. I’m a baby when it comes to rides that are extended in the air for too long, go upside down and too high for too long. I’m no daredevil, let’s be real. I like living.
It’s funny because a lot of my coworkers take vacation in the summer and travel with their kids. I mean, it makes sense for families since that’s when their kids are off. But for me, this is the only time at work I actually don’t take off. It’s easier for me to request off during the off season but it also makes more sense to go someplace nice and warmer when it’s cold in NY, not when it’s already nice weather. I work all summer but I still find time on my days off to go off exploring on Long Island and NYC. Summers on Long Island are actually pretty nice. There’s no need to pay more money to go to a tropical island during this time when we have beaches right down the road from us on both the North shore and the South shore and they’re both different. There’s plenty of fairs and festivals every other weekend. The North Fork farms have become some of my favorite spots to drive out to with their amazing lemonade, fresh farm goods and beautiful flowers. I’ll be honest though. I’ve lived on Long Island all my life but rarely venture out to the Hamptons. It’s funny because when non-New Yorkers ask me where I’m from, all they know about Long Island is the Hamptons. Maybe one day I’ll make it out there and see what the hullabaloo is about. Maybe grab a nice brunch and walk around town.
Until then, I have 123 days left until my next vacation with the boy. Which means I’ll be home for the summer, on my work grind chasing that paper to pay for it. On my days off from work though, you can be sure I’ll be looking for as many fun and free/low cost things I can explore and do around Long Island and NYC. And of course, on my gym grind 24/7. There is no rest for the wicked.
What is your favorite spot in the summer? What are your favorite things to do?