Everyone mourns the end of summer. I always did, too. I’d get nostalgic and weepy as a kid, watch horrible VHS tapes of a family trip to the beach, make mix tapes of songs that I could sob over in September. Ah, summer, so delicious, fleeting, and sweet. But was it? No, it never was. Summer would leave you high and dry and be gone before you knew it.
Honestly? Summer can suck it.
Sure, it was a big deal when I was in school, and summer meant things actually changed. I was temporarily freed from the chains of academia, and free to bake myself in my own driveway wearing SPF 4, wait tables till 11p and then hit the diner with the staff. Go to the beach. Make out with another waiter. It was fun sometimes. Other times, I thought of other stuff I should be doing.
And that’s because the images and fantasies we have about summer are a lot of pressure to live up to–even without social media to contend with. One summer when I was 26 and living with my sister in Newton, MA, I begged her to walk with me down Centre St. to get ice cream one evening in July. We had to.
“Why?” she said, looking at me like I’d lost my mind.
“Because this is what you’re supposed to do during the summer! You’re supposed to walk lazily down the street with an ice cream cone. Come on!’ We did go, and I ate it, and then felt sick. Because I’m lactose intolerant, but I wasn’t going to let that stand in my way.
Summer is a microcosm of life, of youth–and there’s so much you feel you should be doing in such a short amount of time that it’s hard to do what you want. I should be sitting on a beach, I’d think. I should be reading a bestselling novel! Why aren’t I reading more novels! I should be using more sunscreen–but I should also be more tan. How do you do that? I should be dating someone! Or if I was dating someone, I shouldn’t be dating someone! I should be single! Aah! Aaaaah!
Part of me is relieved that life doesn’t undergo such a transition anymore just because it’s summer. Other than a temperature change and a wardrobe shift, not too much else is different this side of adulthood. Yet even here, in the city I always wanted to live in, I groan at the thought of all the summer concerts I never attended, all the margaritas I didn’t drink on rooftop bars downtown. Shit–should I have been doing that? I recall the day back in June I bought a sweet new two-piece, with visions of where I’d wear it. Poor thing only saw a single dip in the pool at Treasure Island in the dead desert August heat after a trade show. Boo.
As if my own made-up fantasies weren’t torture enough–hello Facebook, where we bear witness to what is essentially an endless scroll of summer postcards, depicting blissful, seasonal utopias. I know it’s curated, but it’s still lovely: back-porch BBQs, yawning blue skies, the bright bellies of surfboards slicing through surf, tilting, sunny portraits of beaches and crab boils. Everyone making easy jokes in breezy cotton tunics and slide-on shoes.
Summer is such a FOMO hot zone that I welcome the steady Back-to-School drumbeat. I fucking love it. I’ve never been good at guilt-free lounging. OK, folks. That’s it! Time to fold up those chaises and pack it up. I’m sitting in the parking lot, revving the engine, hurrying your sandy asses up so we can head back to the real world and leave this season in the dust.
So I can get back to business. And start worrying about what I’m supposed to be doing for the holidays.