Summer is approaching rapidly, and with this impending solstice comes a rush of bittersweet feelings. For me, these feelings are a mixture of several things: nostalgia for all of my past summers, excitement for what this summer has in store and anxiety over the latter as well. Rising temperatures bring back memories of spending long summer days playing outside, only stopping to take periodical popsicle breaks. Memories of visiting family across the country, across the ocean even. Memories of going to theme parks, waiting in sticky lines to get on a ride that seemed almost as if it defied the laws of physics. Memories of driving through state parks, staring up at the gigantic trees and gawking at wild animals that were probably extremely tired of the human race. Memories of visiting the beach, running along the sand because my flip-flops had gotten washed away with the waves and the sand was burning my toes.
Last summer was a bit different than usual though. I spent most of it indoors, in my room, lying on my bed, staring at my ceiling fan turning lazily while trying to think of ways to distract myself from the fact that “the best years of my life” were being wasted due to something way out of my control. It’s definitely humbling, living through a pandemic.
I am grateful for it though, in some ways. I learned how to be alone (that’s a big one). It’s not a bad thing. Or at least not as bad as people make it out to be. Honestly, it was kind of refreshing, not having to appear a certain way because I am worried about how others will perceive me. I have a theory that this sort of phenomenon happened to a lot of people over the quarantine period; a lot of people started to allow themselves to appear how they want to, instead of how they felt they had to. Take me for example—my style (amongst other things) changed so much over that period of four months. I started wearing stuff I would have been way too self-conscious to wear before, and I objectively dressed a lot better. I mean, if Target is the only place I am leaving my house to go to, you bet I’m going to be wearing my best outfit (it needs exposure somehow!)
Every year, as spring starts melting into summer, I get the overwhelming urge to plan a road trip. I would say “to go on a road trip,” but it has not officially happened yet, so I don’t know how accurate that would be. Being midwestern is cool when you want to go to a pumpkin patch or pick apples but I’d like to see more than corn and livestock every once in a while. I feel like I’ve changed a lot since the last time I traveled as well, so I want to see things through this new lens I’ve recently discovered. Have I already gone to Chicago pretty much every year that I’ve lived in Missouri? Yes. Do I still want to go again this year? Also yes. The Bean is calling my name, and the prices of the Amtrack tickets are only making it more tempting.
I am, as of now, officially half-vaccinated! One more shot of Moderna to go. At times the vaccines have been the only thing to bring my mental health up. At least now I am less stressed about getting sick now that I know I have some protection, and every Instagram story I see of a vaccine card makes me hopeful that we will get back to normal sometime soon. If you haven’t gotten vaccinated, please make an appointment soon. Do it—if not for yourself—for the people who can’t.
Only a few weeks of school left, and then I will finally be free to go on my road trip. I’m already making a playlist on Spotify, don’t even worry about it. The Google Doc has been created, and I’ve started the search for my summer wardrobe. Now all I have to do is convince my friends! Hopefully this year it won’t just be a plan.