Losing Summer

It is now the first day of fall. I noticed how perfect the weather was today when I went out to get my groceries. The sun shone brightly but the air was cool. A few of the trees on my street have already started to change. THIS is the best of weather.

The turn of August to September saw a flare-up of oppressive heat, but that seems to be the last surge of summer. It’s cooling off again; it seems the season is ready to accept defeat. As usual I had that moment of regret for all the days I didn’t spend at the beach, and having only sat outside at a restaurant with friends or family a few times, despite walking by such patios constantly. I barely wore sandals and I spent far too many days inside.

Every year now, I find a moment to complain about how summer is not very exciting as an adult. When you’re a kid you get the time off from school, and depending on your circumstances, your parents will take you somewhere for a vacation (even if it’s just a two hour drive to a town in the same state). For the rest of the summer you read, you spend time with friends, you hang out in someone’s pool (I always knew someone with a pool). You eat a lot of ice cream, go to barbecues, and don’t have to wake up early.

Then you start to get older. For most people, summer jobs start somewhere in the mid to late teens. Some start much earlier and a few won’t have jobs until after they graduate from college–but those will probably spend the summers volunteering or studying. (This story does not include those people who never have to work. I have no frame of reference to talk about them.) Suddenly, you don’t have all these days off anymore. Teenagers’ jobs are often part-time, so although they sacrifice some of their free days, they still have quite a lot of time to eat ice cream and hang out in their friends’ pools.

But then you enter the “real” world. You have a full time job, or two or three part time jobs, and you don’t have the time to enjoy the beach or spend a day wandering around town with your friends. You have responsibilities instead. If you do have the time to do these things whenever you want, chances are you don’t have the money. Much of your summer free-time goes to waste lamenting that you’ll barely be able to pay your bills this month, so instead of going to the beach, you scour Craigslist for a new job. Gone are the days of being free to enjoy the summertime. Just like they said it would, adulthood sucked away all the fun (I don’t know who “they” are exactly).

As summer becomes just another part of the year with the same schedule, the same stress, and the same lack of time, we long for the time when summer actually meant something more than just wondering what the hell you can wear that won’t cause you to die of heatstroke on the way to/in the office.

 

When you think about it, though, what exactly are we losing? Think back to being a kid during the summer. Really think. My memories of youthful summers are getting a little vague and fragmented at this point, but I’m fairly certain that I ended up bored and ready for summer to be over somewhere around the beginning of August. If I could go back and talk to my ten-year-old self, I’d say “Find something to do and be grateful for your lack of stress.” But unfortunately, hindsight never benefits us. I was always pretty eager to go back to school, even excited.

Of course, I got sick of being back at school after two weeks, instead of two months. I think I just liked the change, the feeling that things were moving forward. New teacher, classroom, notebooks, clothes. Sometimes new friends.

Leisurely summers feel like a story someone told me, rather than anything that really happened. Maybe I block them out because they make me feel guilty for not doing more with my free time when I had so much of it. Of course, I was a kid then, and kids don’t need to be responsible for “getting things done.” I think the problem is that now I know what I would do if I could spend my time how I chose without having to worry about adult things. I’ve felt like there could be so much art, music, friendship, love, etc. in my life, if only I had enough time.

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Five Things Friday: December 27, 2013

I’ve been trying to determine if I am really an adult… since it isn’t really about your age, it seems. Let’s review the most recent arguments.

 

1. I’m happy about getting practical things for Christmas. I got a printer, and a blender. Yay, appliances! And socks.

2. The socks I got for Christmas have cartoon-y cats on them.

3. I offered to help with the baking (but then I didn’t; too tired).

4. I have no idea how to work the tv cable box or the smoke alarm. I need a ride everywhere I go, because I don’t have my own car and I’m not likely to anytime soon.

5. I have not eaten all the cheesecake yet. However, I want to.

….results inconclusive.

Nostalgia: Backward

I saw the Daily Prompt weekly challenge for this week, to start with the last line of a story, or the final action, or something like that, and then give everything leading up to it, and I thought, what a cool prompt. I bet I could write something good. I’ll try it for a week.

Unfortunately, I have finally gotten the time to write and I still haven’t managed to come up with a good last line. I like the idea of this prompt very much, and I am certainly likely to write a story this way in the future, but I think I would have to have that lightbulb of the last line first. I can’t just pull a last line out of thin air. Thin brain. Something like that?

This is where people who just have a notebook full of good lines have an advantage. I don’t have one. (Then you’re not a writer! Go home!)

You go home, internet. You’re drunk.

But the name of the prompt, “Backward,” is reminding me of how I’ve been thinking about earlier times in my life so much these days.

I was even feeling a longing for my teenage years. I don’t want to go into detail here, but, when I’m missing being a teenager, something is clearly wrong. (I did not have a good time.)

Mostly, I miss the version of me that had time to think about the things I really wanted in the future. Too bad I wasn’t smart enough to try to take steps to get there at the time. Maybe I would be closer now.

***I’m not considering this an entry to their challenge, but I figured someone else might have a stab at it, so here is the link below:

Daily Prompt Weekly Challenge, September 9: Backward.

Nostalgia: …and the living USED to be easy

Fish might have jumped, but were probably swimming  for the most part, and maybe the cotton should stop doing so much drugs.

All right, now that the misquoting is out of the way, on to the actual writing:

 

The ads for fall clothing and back to school sales start pretty much as soon as it’s August, when we still have over a month of summer left. That’s too early. No one wants to hear about the end of summer when it is technically right in the middle of summer. Now that it’s getting toward the end of August, it’s all about “Pumpkin spice lattes are coming!” …Yeah. In a month. Calm down everyone. I like fall a lot but you really are getting a little ahead of yourselves.

But I’m not actually here to talk about fall right now. I want to talk about summer. Which it is–right now.

I actually don’t like summer too much. I used to like it just as much as the next kid. That long break from school was pretty great. Being able to just relax, less rules, more hanging out. One or two-week trips to some location away from home. For me it was almost always in the states and most often in New England, because we’re not fucking rich.

Summer is nothing like that now. Summer as an adult kind of sucks. It’s exactly like every other time of the year, the same schedule, the same stresses, except it’s so hot out that after you get dressed for work, you want to die.

The last time I could really say I enjoyed a summer, I think, was the time before my junior year of high school. The summer before my senior year I wasn’t working, but I was miserable, so that one can’t be it. I can’t remember anything I actually did during the summer I was 16, but I imagine it was a lot of reading, singing (at home, to myself), and spending time with friends. Sounds pretty good, right?

Since then, I’ve either been working too much to have a real chance at summer, or rather depressed, too much to enjoy the free time. Lots of Netflix going on…

I think the summer after I graduated from college was pretty good. I was working, but not full time, so I did have a lot of free time. I had just passed a life milestone I was very proud of and I was going to California that September (a move that failed pretty spectacularly, but had its moments anyway). It was nothing anyone would make a wacky, epic teen movie about, but I can’t say I’d complain about it.

This year, it’s just the regular old full-time work week with a tiny bit of vacation thrown in the middle. Occasionally my weekends are actually rejuvenating times. Not too often. And they keep the office so cold with air conditioning…

So I’m happy that fall’s coming. Bring on the pumpkin spice lattes (not from Starbucks though) and the leather jacket weather. And an excuse to buy new boots.