A little something sweet

When I think of summer, it’s the sweet tang of a Slurpee on my tongue that hits me first.

Near my grandparents’ home was a 7-Eleven — a convenience store just far enough away to constitute a “walk,” but not nearly far enough that we couldn’t make it over there. My sister and I were fortunate to spend summers with my grandparents growing up, and Grandma tried to get Kate and me out for fresh air. When the Maryland humidity didn’t threaten to knock us out, we’d prance around the neighborhood and wind up at the store for a treat.

I remember my sister in the stroller and my hand in Grandma’s. I remember the shells adorning a neighbor’s driveway — as fine and delicate as bone. And I remember, too, the way the cool air and neon lights would strike us as we made it to 7-Eleven — and I headed straight for the Slurpee machine. I couldn’t always reach it.

My dad kept up the ritual, too, and trips for Slurpees were an after-school routine. When Dad would collect us for home, we’d pop into the store for chips and a drink. Coke Slurpees have always been my favorite, and still are; a throwback to the sweetness of growing up.

When I’m having a rough day, 7-Eleven’s siren song is more powerful than anything Starbucks could ever offer. I often stop for lunch near a gas station that carries this nectar of the gods and can’t help but get a large beverage for the road. In the decades since those lazy days at Grandma’s, I’ve traded my sneakers and corduroys for heels and trousers — but my childish taste buds? Totally intact.

Katie and I made a special trip for a free “birthday” Slurpee on 7/11. They were out of Coke, of course, considering it’s the most awesome of all awesome Slurpee flavors. But I got a cherry — a decent substitute. And it’s definitely not unusual to find my sister and I making special trips to drinks to this day.

July is rapidly winding to a close. Our birthdays have now passed — an annual celebration of Dad, my sister and me. August is waving and friendly, but still threatening to disappear as fast as the previous months. We anticipate summer for so long — the vacations and tanning and fireworks — but once it’s here, we’re helpless to slow it all down. As I type, the leaves on trees lining my office’s street are yellowing and preparing to drop. It won’t be long before our 100-degree heat yields to cold, damp 60-degree days.

And don’t get me wrong — I still get Slurpees on 60-degree days. But there’s something about the rapidly-melting, hot-and-steamy July afternoons that make your drink all the sweeter.

And who couldn’t use a little sweet?