Every summer for as long as I can remember has meant one thing: relaxation. Pool trips, outings on friend’s boats, vacations to the beach and long, lazy, luxurious days of doing absolutely nothing are the memories I have associated with summers dating back from kindergarten to now. I held onto those stress-free summer days for as long as I could, but this past summer was different in more than one way–I stayed in my college town, worked and took summer classes for the majority of the summer. No long, lazy days spent reading on the beach for me; nope, this was my first real taste of what a “responsible summer” would look like.
This was a hard decision to make, don’t get me wrong. Usually, summers between college meant catching up on sleep and eating my parents food; sacrificing that for long days waiting tables and teaching myself Adobe Illustrator was not the ideal situation I wanted to find myself in all summer. That said, it did allow me to explore my campus and surrounding city and see it in a much different light than I had just seeing it during the semester.
That was my favorite part about this summer–I got to see my campus, which I have always loved when it was bustling full of people, completely empty. I got to go to my favorite restaurants and bars and not have to wait 45 minutes for a table. I got to sleep early on a Friday night without hearing people drunkenly yelling right outside my bedroom window.
The first few days after my summer class let out, I would spend hours wandering around, basking in how gloriously empty everywhere was. I could find coveted seats at the library with ease, breeze in and out of the Starbucks line in 5 minutes or less and get to use machines at the gym and not worry that I was being judged by a full room of people.
I didn’t think that I would, but I was overjoyed and loving every second of how beautifully empty it was everywhere. I thought it would be lonely and I would feel wholly isolated in my college town over the summer; but it allowed me to get much closer to the friends that also chose to stay behind and work, intern, take classes or some combination of the three. It strengthened my relationship with my boyfriend whom I live with; because, shockingly, not having constant late nights at the library or late night classes allowed for more date nights.
That said, it did open my eyes to how much I deeply wanted a normal summer. The few weekends I managed to take off and go home, I wanted nothing more than to stay in my parents house; raiding their fridge, watching reality TV with my mom and having late-night ice cream runs with friends from high school. Going back to work and class had never quite been that hard, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t cry saying good-bye to my mom and dad when the time came for me to return to reality. Checking my Instagram feed became a game of “who is living their best life right now” while I was hiding in the bathroom at work, sweaty and covered in someone else’s spilled ranch dressing.
It certainly wasn’t the most glamorous summer I have ever had, or one that I documented every day of all over my social media, but spending this summer in my college town definitely opened my eyes to what my future summers look like. While I hope I have a little more play and a little less work in the future, it got me excited for what’s to come–the responsibility and everything. While I’ll miss my childhood summers of laying by the pool until I turned a slightly darker shade of pale, I know this summer was the first one of the rest of my life; and I cannot freaking wait.