What was my favorite part of the summer? My favorite moment, the moment that I would use to sum up the entirety of these three months, and the moment that I would choose to remember if I was to forget everything else.

I actually have an answer for this one. Surprising, right?

To begin, I must explain the setting. A friend – Yannick – “housesat” for a family in his church for a week of the summer. The family was fairly well-off, and the house was huge: tall staircase, two floors and a big basement, and a stellar pool in the backyard. The pool itself wasn’t so incredible – rather small, actually, and no deeper than five or six feet throughout. But the best part is yet to come: it was heated.

Late one afternoon, Yannick invited his summer posse (under the permission of the vacationing family, of course) to visit the house and “party.” The important thing to know is that an engineering major international student’s version of “party” involves hanging out with friends, drinking tea, and telling stories. And to be honest, that’s how I spent most of my free time that summer. So maybe that’s my definition of “party,” too.

At first, I was skeptical. I may have been well on my way to getting to know this group of people, but was I really one of them? Would I really enjoy myself at this gathering? But truthfully, I could find no real excuse. And with no real excuse and a self-diagnosed “fear of missing out,” I agreed to go. 

The next few hours can perhaps be described in sounds rather than images: meeting the dog (aw); house tour (ooh’s and aah’s); in-pool volleyball and swimming (splash splash, maybe a few drippy hair flips courtesy of Gomes Uno); practicing flips on the trampoline (thuds, bounces, and a few victory shrieks); star-gazing with Ellen-chan (more ooh’s and aah’s); brief discussion on the financial crisis in Greece (huh); more swimming (brr’s and more splashing, some threats to Yannick’s life and future); setting a fire in a little metal firepit (crackle crackle); quick dinner courtesy of Gomes Uno (yum); suitable beach-mood relaxation music courtesy of I-Brad; and a few episodes of Band of Brothers (gunshots and screams). All-in-all, a beautiful evening; the most beautiful and memorable evening of the summer.

Alright, so maybe it wasn’t so comfortable being half-in and half-out of a room temperature body of water in the chilly air of early fall. Maybe I couldn’t watch every scene of Band of Brothers without closing my eyes through the gory shots. Maybe the dog was a little annoying, with a habit of following you into the bathroom and refusing to leave even as it tilted its head and lolled its tongue adorably at you. 

But every blue day has a cloud or two, or three. The best part of learning to appreciate life is looking at the good through the bad, staying positive and seeing the best in the worst. At least, that’s the most naive part of my philosophical interpretation of life.