Given the monsoon season we have apparently become trapped in, it may not seem like it's summer just yet, but it's here. Between last weekend and the official end of the school year this week, summer is upon is — even if it may not fully look like it just yet.
Summer — with its trademark emotional blend of nostalgia and optimism — arrived for me this past weekend as I stepped in a time machine and was inadvertently transported back to my high school years thanks to the start of competition in my summer softball league (almost exactly one week ago). That alone wasn't enough to send me hurtling back through the time-space continuum, but as the first game transpired, I would soon find myself feeling like I was a teen again.
With a tightly contested season opener, it's safe to say I was a bit anxious. Last season did not go so hot for my team, so I was hoping to start 2019 off with a win. Through five innings it was back and forth, with my team trailing by one run in the top of the sixth.
I stepped up to bat to lead off the sixth inning and singled to get on base, advancing over to second. With two outs, one of my teammates blooped a hit into shallow right center field. Even before that contact, I had made the decision that I was scoring on any hit — so I rounded third hard and barreled toward home plate.
Playing softball on a baseball field made judging how far the ball had traveled a little tougher to judge. I soon found out the answer though — not quite as far as I had hoped. Coming home, I could see out of the corner of my eye that there would be a play at the plate. It was at that moment that I hit 88 mph in my mental DeLorean, as it was clear I would have to slide — something I hadn't done since playing high school baseball — if I wanted to be safe.
Luckily, muscle memory kicked in and it was just like riding a bike. As I made that decision to slide in the moment, I was instantly back at high school practice listening to my coach go over proper form (tuck your leg in a figure four pattern, drop, throw your hands up, etc.). Honestly, I don't know how it looked to everyone else, but it at least felt like it did several years ago — though maybe a little rougher, as I wasn't wearing sliding shorts.
That run scored helped tie the game up, but unfortunately we couldn't pull out the win. However, I know there will be plenty more chances for that — as well as bursts of youthful energy (once I'm fully healed) — through the rest of the season.
Heck, just two days after that I did something else I haven't done in quite some time — take a day trip throughout Kansas. Growing up in Salina, that was a frequent experience. Whether heading to the Lindsborg pool, the Warren theaters in Wichita or the Sedgwick County Zoo, day trips were a staple of the summer for my family.
When a friend approached me about the idea of doing a day trip, I jumped at the opportunity to head out on the road. Sunday proved to be the perfect day for it, too, as I introduced our band of merry men to the country fried steak at The Barn in Burrton before we headed off to Coronado Heights and then explored a ghost town in Chase County.
As my family were frequent summer travelers (with both parents having careers in education), there's something about hitting the open road that will always take me back to my youth. Summer, in general, is just a sea of memories that I wade back into each year; it's hard not to do so once May hits.
Even though I may no longer have the same amount of free time, there are still several experiences I seek out in the summer to transport me back to a simpler time — from day trips to Braum's milkshakes to enjoying a brain freeze-inducing sno-cone. Giving in to the nostalgia of summer can be quite the rush and I, for one, look forward to the other time travel adventures the next few months may have in store.
— Kelly Breckunitch is a general assignment/county reporter for The Kansan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.