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.

The Day I Wish I’d Had Today

I woke up around 8 o’clock, feeling pretty well-rested. I smiled as I slowly pushed my comforter over to one side, thinking of coffee.

I took my time to brew the coffee just right, put together an omelet with roasted red peppers, sliced up some mango, and took it all over to my computer. Breakfast is never complete without the internet.

An hour an a half later, I finally finished my coffee. It is the perfect amount of time two drink two mugs full. Coffee and leisure go so much better together than coffee and obligation: this makes everyday life somewhat unfortunate, as people grab a coffee to go sit down at a job that they find often boring at best, and rarely exciting or desirable.

A nice hot shower completes my long wake-up ritual. I know I’m taking a little too long to decide what to wear. By now it’s about 10:30, but that’s ok. There’s still plenty of time left in the day.

Unfortunately, I need groceries. Better to take care of that now, or I’ll end up putting it off even longer. But I only really need a few things, so it won’t take too long. I grab the essentials; stuff for breakfast, fresh fruit and vegetables, and some kind of dinner protein. I will admit that I really like returning from the grocery store, when at last I have lots of fresh food on hand.

If I leave quickly, I can make it to a mid-day yoga class. I grab the essentials and head out the door. It’s still kind of rainy, so I jump on the bus to get there, which means I’m earlier than I expected. I stretch for a bit and settle down on my mat to wait. Yoga is calming and allows my concerns about what happened yesterday or the day before to go to the corner and think about what they’ve done, until I have time to deal with them. I feel nice and centered at the end, hoping it would last at least a little while after I got home.

Lunch was the priority after I reached my kitchen, of course, so I made myself a salad with my fresh groceries, tossed with a bit of olive oil and lemon, and consumed it enthusiastically with a lot of water to drink.

When I was done I felt like lying down, but I wasn’t in the mood to nap. I worked a little on organizing the piles of stuff that I haven’t had a chance to address for too long.

Apparently I’m having a REALLY good day, because now all I can think about is writing. I decide to take my computer to the cafe down the street so that I won’t be tempted by the distraction of the internet. A cup of chai to keep me company, I start typing away. I don’t really know if any of it’s good. I’ll have to read it later and decide. But I’m writing, and that makes me happy. I make words. Being creative feeds me so much more than the things we always do to waste time, because our brains get so exhausted just trying to get through this world that we have no energy left to create anything. Letting myself be entertained is the easy way. It’s just lazy to do that instead of create. And to some extent I do need that break for my brain, but I think, like most people these days, I take it too far. How amazing it feels to be able to just sit and write.

Several hours have passed. Time for a late dinner, a short workout, and then maybe I’ll do some more organizing and read a bit.

*None of these things happened today. Today is not a good day. I have been so frustrated lately, and I feel like I don’t have the time to do the things I really want, and when I do, I don’t have the energy. I want to be able to stop time. I don’t care about the extra aging. People live too ┬álong anyway. I’d rather have enough time in a day to feel like I can actually get things done.