It seems that it was just yesterday I was sipping mocktails on the seventeenth floor of Sulzberger Hall, singing karaoke to bad 80’s tunes, and attempting to watch fireworks in the rain. I wake up every morning half-expecting to need to run down the block to Rite Aid, not forgetting my Metrocard in case I need to travel anywhere else. I sometimes forget that Crumb is not just thirty blocks away but almost a thousand miles. Yet, this July Fourth I was not partying it up on the Upper West Side, I was back home with my family, viewing fireworks on Lake Michigan, bright cityscape in the background, as if last summer never happened.
The interesting thing about summer is that it is completely unpredictable. Each summer brings new challenges and adventures, new friends and stories, new ideas and inspiration for the year to come.
Traveling to Israel, living in Manhattan, and exploring Europe packed all into three months was the best ninety days I could have asked for in 2008. My experiences in Barnard Pre-College taught me even more than I could have hoped: exploring the city on my own, making it my own, building a new network of friends—everything lead to new discoveries about myself and others that truly changed me when I arrived home.
Growing up, my summers were spent in Wisconsin, then in Boston, and finally at performing arts camps in New York. It never occurred to me that I could enjoy being home when I spent so much time there during the year. And now here it is: my last few months at home, enjoying the summer in a completely new way.
There aren’t any rules for summer. Summer lets us do whatever we want to it, gives us the freedom to make new discoveries, and learn and grow in ways a classroom never could. Perhaps we spend our months learning a new language, skill, or improving our talents. Perhaps we just use the time to take a much-needed break, revitalize our relationships or start new ones. Or perhaps we just wish for it to be over, to return to the regularity of everyday life without the anxieties of having to live capriciously each day.
While I’ve experienced all of the following sentiments about the hotter months, I cannot deny the magic of summer. Its ability to completely transform people who are usually uptight into easygoing beach attendees, its mystifying power to turn the shyest of people into more outgoing characters, its enchanting lure of making the most mundane situations romantic, the most boring days hilarious, its encouraging nudges to find the good in everybody, a purpose in the world.
And of course, summer wouldn’t be anything if it weren’t for the friends. If it’s not reconnecting with new friends, having lunches and late nights that would be impossible during the year, there is always the possibility to meet new people. I couldn’t discuss summer without ignoring my summer pals. There are certain people we just click with, people oddly similar to ourselves or completely different with whom we would never have the chance to connect if it were not for summer break. I’ve maintained strong friendships throughout the years; I’m proud to say I have friends living in multiple cities, countries, and continents. I never feel alone; I almost always know someone where I’m going, and I love when visitors come to Chicago. The stresses of the school year are almost always relieved when I can talk to a summer friend, a person who is not involved in my daily life, and reminisce over good times and talk about a problem I wouldn’t want to discuss with my friends at home.
I love summer. I love the ability to escape from everything, to try anything and everything, experience all that I can in such a short amount of time. I cannot bear to think that at some point I may not have this luxury, that everyday adult life may take over and these summer months will not be as special. But for now, I try to take it a day at a time, enjoy everything I possibly can and indulge in as many adventures as possible. See you in the sun!