Every summer for the last 18 years, I’ve spent eight Saturday nights in June and July under the stars with the North Carolina Symphony. Always at Regency Park in Cary, NC … though, I preferred the setting before the Town of Cary spent a gazillion dollars a decade ago to build the amphitheatre stage … and always with my beloved mister. Thirteen summers ago, we brought three-month old baby Peyton with us and introduced him to the wonders of the live symphony with William Henry Curry. He’s 12 this year, so this is his last free season, sadly.
Every year, we’ve added new friends and family to the mix. About ten or eleven years ago, my mother became a standard fixture. We added the Noodles about five years ago, and Peyton added Nick and Christian four years ago. The Cranfords travel occasionally from Charlotte to attend, and the Coys have been with the Sickles since the beginning, nearly 30 years ago.
We’ve been planning our five-star dinner all week: we’re taking chicken sliders and Kentucky Bourbon pie bars, Rita’s taking her famous corn casserole, Pat has fruit; the Noodles are doing side dishes and appetizers, and the Coys are bringing Aunt Suzie’s out-of-this-world chocolate chip cookies. I’m sure Christian will have a couple of coins to buy a hot dog at the park. I’m going to go old school and bring a small bag of bread to share with the geese, ducks and turtles.
My “activity bag” is packed with games and drawing supplies for Peyton. The trunk’s packed with our chairs and camp table. I’ve already pulled a book off the shelf to re-read, and Matt’s charging his iPad. The program promises to be a wonderful classical masterpiece, which will make Matt extremely happy. But I can’t shake my maudlin mood …
I think I’m having a bit of an aging crisis. We mark our lives with events. Every spring we’re so excited about a new summer filled with wonderful concerts and movies and picnics with the people we love most in the world … but with Peyton aging out of the freebie tickets three weeks after starting 7th grade … well, I think I might be a little teary. So Mr. William Henry Curry, I look to you to carry us off to a wonderland of sweet summer music. Amidst the chirping treefrogs and singing cicadas, my heart will fill to bursting with the knowledge that life is a gift and certainly goes on … but with it comes changes that are sometimes hard to breathe through.