When I was 17, I was with this boy. He would take me out to empty country roads in his Jeep Cherokee, and I would stand through the sunroof while he held my legs against his body and drove unbelievably fast into the night. The wind would rush over my face and body and I would scream at the top of my lungs. The deer from the field would sometimes run along side the Jeep as we flew, legs pumping to keep up.
On rainy days we’d lie in his bed, listening to our favorite albums mixing with the sound of the rain outside. We would talk about our future and dreams. We’d talk about books and poetry. We would kiss and laugh and fight and be.
One day, as he raided the kitchen for food, I found myself outside in the pouring rain, dancing to music only we could hear. I was wearing little more than a large sweater of his, and he begged me to come inside before I ruined it. I stripped the sweater off instead, flung it into his arms, and danced across his lawn until I couldn’t see the house anymore.
Two and a half months after our first kiss I left for college. He wrote me a long letter about how much he loved me and how he couldn’t live without me. It was cliched, filled with lines from songs about how he would miss me “like the desert missed the rain.” But it came from his heart, even if he couldn’t find his own words.
Still, we broke up. Months later I learned that he had cheated on me with one of my best friends, not long after I left for college. It was fitting, as he had first kissed me when I was dating his best friend. I was angry for all of a week, before I accepted that summer romances don’t last forever.
Our summer love was short lived, as most are, and we both have moved on to much bigger and better things. But sometimes, when I feel lost or unsure, I think back to those two instances: riding uninhibited through the open sunroof of a speeding car and dancing naked without shame through a rain storm, and I remember how amazing life can be.