Let’s Talk About Summer Memories

Summer is the time to make memories that last a lifetime. Does that sound as cheesy and cliche to you as it does to me? It sounds less like a fact and more like a phrase that belongs on the cover of a teen magazine. It is repetitive, it is overused, and it assumes that summer is not the time to take classes, work a job to pay for school, babysit siblings, intern, shadow, volunteer, or some combination of responsibilities. While parading around the beach in one of a dozen perfectly picked swimsuits is the “summer dream” that is seemingly shoved down our throats, it isn’t the summer reality for most of us. Add in the unavoidable changes due to the current international health conditions and Summer 2020 just doesn’t look as expected. 

What does this mean for our memories? Should we give up on making this summer one that we will tell our grandchildren about? Should we just accept that it is a bust and that there is nothing we can do about it? Absolutely not. Yes, COVID-19 has greatly changed almost every plan made for this summer. Vacations got canceled, internships suspended, employment, for those who have it, looks very different than ever before, but we must not let these changes ruin the time in the sun that we are given.

From the day I moved into my dorm at MSU, I began counting down the days until the year was over. I loved every minute I got to spend in East Lansing, and I love the people I met there, but I spent the year waiting for it to be summer again. I made a summer bucket list filled with short get-away’s, movie nights, outdoor activities, and random adventures that I couldn’t wait to do with my friends who live on other college campuses across the country. I couldn’t wait to be home where my best friend and I could do last-minute, late-night Taco Bell runs and go on spontaneous hikes in the woods. When I turned the calendar to March and the world changed, I began mourning the memories I thought I would never make. 

So here’s the point, just because this summer looks different doesn’t mean it can’t be one to remember. I’m still attacking my bucket list. “Some Big Fun Thing” with my friend Ashley turned out to be completely cleaning out her bedroom instead of a road-trip, yet laughing at the memorabilia from elementary school will make me smile for years to come. While I’m not going to make it to a local amusement park with my younger sister and my best friend, our honorary second sister, crowding around one phone in a small twin bed to find the funniest Tik Toks is the kind of memory that reminds there is more to life than work when school has me stressed. 

When I stop to really think about it, memories are not elaborate vacations or picture perfect beach days, they are the small and unexpected moments spent with the people you love. It’s driving twenty miles away for a Sonic Blast, it’s getting lost on a hiking trail, it’s haircuts in the kitchen, and it’s screaming every word to our favorite songs that’s worth remembering. It is looking at the clock and realizing we’ve been sitting on the floor in my garage for three hours and not fifteen minutes that makes summer feel so good. It’s the candid pictures and unexpected videos that I will look at when school has resumed and life has gone back to “normal.”

For me, the upcoming fall semester looks very different than I would have ever expected. Living at home during the academic year was never an option for me, nor did I expect it to be one I would so heavily consider. So to anyone who has been feeling down because summer is moving too quickly and hasn’t been as expected, take the next month and look not for the cover photo, but for the link in the acknowledgements. There are a lot of ways to be spontaneous while safely socially distancing and following health guidelines. As I dread the day classes begin again and the carefree summer nights are a year away, I look back on the memories that I have already made and am reminded that it doesn’t take perfection to create joy. Don’t let the unexpected take away your chance to make memories, but instead, make memories out of the unexpected.