We’re seated by a young girl with a brand new Mullet Bay t-shirt on. Just by looking at her fresh pressed shorts and brand new tennis shoes, I know her deal.
The waiter fumbles to remember today’s specials because it’s his first day of work.
The adorable waitress from Japan doesn’t know what a Shirley Temple is, but when I tell her it’s Sprite and cherry juice, she writes it on her little cheat sheet. She won’t forget now.
This is the beginning of a summer to remember for so many people on the Island.
From now on, they’re going to be able to say, “I worked a summer in St. Simons and it was the most fun I’ve ever had!”
I know because I can say that, too.
I’ve been back to St. Simons a zillion times since I nannied here in the summers of 1995 and 1996. I was married here. I’ve vacationed here and yet, for the first time, I’m feeling almost weepy with nostalgia when I think about the boys and girls who are here to work, get paid, enjoy their freedom and most of all, make memories.
Granted, some of those memories will end with massive hangovers and huge regrets, but whatever… it’s summer.
I see them huddled together, nervous and self-conscious, waiting to see which tables they get to serve, rehearsing what to say, but in the back of their mind they’re really wondering whether the guy who’s helping the bartender is interested in them. Will he be the one who asks me to the beach on our day off? Does my hair look ok? It’s not too frizzy is it?
I know them because I WAS them.
Luckily, my job involved keeping an adorable (now freaking grown) elementary aged girl. (You people don’t want me waiting on your table, I promise.) Haley and I spent our days at the pool, doing arts and crafts and generally goofing off. The second summer I had a friend with me and we ventured out more at night, eventually both finding boyfriends — locals who were bartending for the summer. Of course those weren’t long-lasting romances, but they were fun. We enjoyed ourselves and the memories I have of the things Haley and I did will surely stick with me forever.
And that’s what this new batch of kids will do this summer.
Whether they’re bartending, waiting tables, putting up umbrellas on the beach, nannying or working in a retail shop, the memories will be made. They’ll dance to bands at night, swing on the swings at the King and Prince with their dates, climb the lighthouse, bask in the sun to perfect their “I lived at the ocean” tan, and sleep until noon if they can.
Maybe they will appreciate it while they’re in the moment, but probably not. More than likely it’ll take them a good 15 years before they realize what a wonderful experience they had.
And when they do? They’ll be the one tearing up in the middle of Mullet Bay because they’re flooded with emotions and gratefulness for the summers they spent on the Island.
(What? That wasn’t me tearing up. I’m just saying.)
(Ok, fine. It was me. And I’m proud of it.)