Photo Credit: Raffaele Camardella
Ah, summer. When the air is fresh with salt water and sun screen. The sun refuses to die away and when it does finally settle for the night, the dark sky is clear and adorned with white specks and blinking fireflies. People begin to shed their spring jackets in exchange for shorts and flip flops, higher the volume on their car radios, and let the comforting breeze float in through screened windows.
Actually, I’ve never been fond of summer. Don’t get me wrong, I love the warmer weather and the break from school, but the magic fades for me once June arrives. I always feel like I’m on a timer to have fun before September returns and I never seem to make the deadline. As a reminder of this failure, Facebook is filled to the brim with pictures of college peers water rafting, sitting on a beach, and having the time of their life. It makes me wonder what I’m doing wrong since I’ve never had an “epic” summer that social media tells me I should be having.
People tend to design summer as this golden paradise of excitement, romance, and freedom. It’s a time to be alive and soak up as much seaside bliss as we can because it’s more fleeting than we realize. It becomes an emotion rather than a season. It’s becoming enamored with the idea that something thrilling could happen within a three month time span. Whatever that dreamlike scenario may be, it’ll have to remain in the summer haze once the end of August nears. That’s what makes it valuable and stressful to obtain. We believe that this shred of adventure can only last so long and we only have that long to seek it out. It’s a dream in itself and once autumn comes, we have to pack the thrills and beauty of summer away for another year. We spend the next months in anticipation for it, waiting for that paradise to open it’s doors to us again so we can live.
I’ve never had a summer where I felt alive. I love adventure, but I let adventure come when it comes and I try not to dwell on the fact that it only comes so often. When summer rolls in, I don’t daydream about meeting a handsome guy or make plans to be out every day and night. I never feel bad about going at my own pace and doing what I find fun, but sometimes I still feel that pressure to live. I feel like I need to keep up with Facebook, but summer shouldn’t be a competition. If anything, summer should act as a sliver of paradise, but that paradise all depends on what the summer breaker wants it to be.
Growing up, my summers are what others would call dull. My family never did vacations because my parents don’t like to travel so my brother and I always spent the time at home or around town. I look back and I remember watching fireworks from my backyard, spending time at an air conditioned movie theater, having sleepovers where we’d wake up to a florescent glow at 5:00 in the morning as a movie theme looped over the menu screen. I remember watching Star Wars and playing Kingdom Hearts in a friend’s basement and I also remember standing at said friend;s door and getting squirted in the back of the head with a water gun. Some years would be different. Three years in a row, I’d go to a camp in the wilderness of Ohio for a week and the summer before college I spent a day at Six Flags with a best friend. Normally once August came my family would take a trip down to my grandparent’s home in Southern Illinois and go to the annual Balloon Festival. We’d watch the hot air balloons take off in the evening and then my dad and I would go from tent to tent at the flea market area. We’d watch the balloon glow later on when they had all returned and before we knew it, it’d be time to head home and go to the carnival in our own hometown.
I live in a petite town, but when this carnival comes around the whole area is bustling with people and for one brief weekend, the town wakes up from it’s sleepy haze. The park would smell like hot dogs and dyed hair spray. The pageants would start, the tents would open, the ticket booths would be surrounded by excitable teenagers, kids, and adults who can’t wait to tryout the new ride or go back to an old favorite. Blue and red lights would play around in the sky once night fell and everyone would act a little bit happier, a little more lively. Then on that rainy Sunday, the Ferris Wheel would get packed up and the grounds would be scattered with candy wrappers and damp cigarettes. That’s when the thrill would die down and we’d all know that summer had ended.
That’s the summer I remember and when I look back it does seem like it’s own tiny paradise. At the time I still felt like I wasn’t living it up the way I should have. I wasn’t on an adventure or meeting someone special. I wasn’t doing much of anything, but those memories still remain precious to me. Even this summer I’ve felt like I’m doing something wrong since I’m 22 and should be having my roaring twenties, but I know that summer doesn’t have to be the one time that adventure has to take place. There’s three other seasons where anything could happen, full of thrills and beauty that we seem to overlook and there’s no rush to get there. And yet, we still create this melancholy feeling that comes with the end of summer, but I’m ready for autumn and what comes after. I’m ready for a season of productivity and while the utopia idea of summer sounds ideal in the bitterness of winter, I’m ready to pack it away until next June.
“The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.”- E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web.