The Unforgettable Summer
October 20, 2010
Revised October 21, 2012
It was a typical summer day; warm, sunny, and dry. However, this beautiful day was about to become very atypical and blaze a terrible, yet comedic, memory into my mind.
A year earlier, I had moved to Lehi, Utah. I became fast friends with my backyard neighbors Jenna and Emilie. Amelia, my little sister, usually tagged along. Over the summer break from school, we spent every day making smoothies, playing board games, and chasing boys. A gate between our yards connected our worlds. We would have water fights all day and waste hours on the swing set. Hearing “it’s time to come home for dinner” from my mother’s lips was torturous. Amelia and I inhaled the meal and raced back to Jenna and Emilie’s house every time. Summer nights boasted temperate weather and building forever friendships. We fell asleep on the tramp to the breeze and woke up with mosquito bites. I couldn’t have been happier.
On this particularly momentous day, of which I referred to earlier, not only did something horrifyingly unforgettable happen, but the friendship I had with Jenna, Emilie, and Amelia blossomed into a relationship of trust in life and death matters.
We were jumping on the trampoline, allowing our imaginations to stretch to full capacity. “And then, a stampede of zebras came!” yelled Jenna. We all giggled and pretended to be scared.
“Don’t worry, I will save you!” announced Emilie, in her best prince charming voice.
Our minds fashioned a cloud of dust and rumbling stampede. But no matter how promising our young creativity was, nothing was as convincing as a real cloud of dust, which is exactly what we saw.
“What IS that?” I screamed at the approaching force.
Biology explains an inherent response to distress: either removing oneself from the problem, or aggression. This phenomenon is more commonly known as “fight or flight”. Amelia, too feeble to fight against the unknown, exemplified the “flight” response by zooming to the tree house and soaring to the top thereof. The rest of us paid no attention, as we were focused on the oncoming herd of cows. Yes, cows; chunky, milky, and fuzzy. Down the street from our houses was a small farm. They must have broken free and were running away from the zebra stampede too…
Emilie and I soon joined Amelia at the top of the tree house. We poked our heads out and called for Jenna. Being the oldest and toughest, Jenna refused to climb to safety. Charlie, her pet dachshund, barked madly and circled dizzily around the base of the tree house.
Upon arriving at the scene, the cows just passed right through. Anticlimactic, is it not? Our shrieks were silenced and the adrenaline pumping through me began to subside. Emilie, Amelia, and I returned to Jenna on the tramp and broke into a fit of silly laughter. We rolled around and giggled.
“You were SO scared Amelia. Suddenly, you were, like, GONE! I just wanted to stay down here and see them.” Jenna explained her vantage point of the story and completed it with a question, “where did they come from?”
Amelia, still shaken, laughed nervously. Before Emilie and I could answer, her mom had stepped outside. “Mom! Mom, mom, mom!!!” we all exclaimed.
“What was all that screaming about? You girls need to calm down.” Before turning back to the open door, her eyes caught the trampled flower bed. The cows, in their hurry to run away from the zebra stampede, had inadvertently demolished, destroyed, and decimated Jenna and Emilie’s mom’s flowers. “My flowers! What happened? What did you do?!” She was furious.
“But Mom, the cows! They were running! And there were thousands of them! And we yelled at them. But they wouldn’t stop! MOM! It was the cows!” Emilie might or might not have exaggerated in her attempt to dispel her mom’s anger.
“Emilie Nicole Marsden! Don’t lie to me! I need you girls to leave my flowers alone.”
Later, a neighbor called to ask her if she had seen the cow stampede passing through. She apologized to her daughters, Amelia, and me. “Your story was just so impractical! I’m sorry I didn’t believe you, Emilie.”
Since then, there have been many times in my life that I’ve thought back to this moment. No, I’m not about to make up a stupid analogy about how cows represent some negative emotion and climbing the tree house is our safeguard and whatnot. I will, however, point out that this incident is most definitely movie-worthy.
The reason this has stuck with me is that I’ve always considered Jenna my closest friend. Not only that, but the strongest. She was always the one to stand up to the challenge and put herself in the middle of it all. She’s gone through so much, and I admire her strength.
Things change. Jenna, my best friend of twelve years, moved two hours away during my junior year of high school. And now, as she’s attending Snow College in Ephraim, we’re still kept apart. But one constant thing I can count on is the relationship we have and the trust we’ve built. Sure, things aren’t the summer fairytale that they once were. We no longer stay up all night singing Britney Spears and eating Tabasco-drenched popcorn. Instead of chasing boys, we’re crying about them and commiserating with each other. We don’t play as many games and our imaginations aren’t near as extensive as they once were. Neither of us have the time to be what we used to be: kids. Instead, we’re growing up. We’re both adults (ugh!)! We’re learning that the world is bigger than our backyards and trials are harder than a stampede of cows. It would be easier to go back, but it’s better to move on.
In the past few weeks alone, our relationship has taken major strides. We’re working through challenges and we’re learning to be more honest with each other. Though things have become increasingly more difficult, I’m grateful for the happy summer memories we have to look back to. Though I am incapable of seeing Jenna the way that our Father and Savior see her, I am grateful for the glimpse they’ve given me of perfect love for a dear friend.