For many, summer is a welcomed and awaited season. It holds the promise of freedom and vacations, swimming and cookouts, long afternoon naps, extra time to be spent with family, and the chance to relax and refuel before the carousel of holidays and a new school year begin once again.
Sounds lovely, right?
I don't know about you, but all of that sounds a whole lot like my childhood and young adult summers—not so much my mandatory you-are-now-officially-an-adult-you-still-have-to-take-care-of-sh*t ones. For most of us now, the increasing rise in temperatures does not signify the release of jobs, bills, stress or general responsibilities.
In some cases, they may even increase. Instead of picking up a summer hobby or sport yourself, you are now driving around a truckload of children and their friends and their friends' cousins and their friends' cousins' neighbors to their select summer activities. (Whose idea was it to sign up for that community carpool again?) Or summer might be the slow season for your job, which makes for plenty of time to pick up a second one so that you can afford said activities.
I have always been a bit nostalgic with each passing summer. Once you realize the days of laying around with your siblings, watching mindless television, eating junk, extended sleepovers with best friends, and waiting for mom and dad to finally take you on vacation are over, it's easy to get a little melancholy. But, for whatever reason, this time around I seem to have a full-on case of (cue Lana Del Rey) summertime sadness.
You see, I am currently living with a 9 and 13-year-old, and these boys are currently on summer vacation. And I am just a teensy bit jealous of how carefree their lives currently are. (Currently, currently... now it doesn't currently sound like a real word.) Maybe jealous is the wrong word for it because, really, it just makes me miss my own School's Out For Summer days.
Those days were great and, like the majority of them, they were also taken for granted. (My deepest apologies, Mom and Dad. I was a real asshole.)
I am always trying to find ways to express to the boys just how much they should be enjoying having sit on the couch and eat an entire bag of Doritos or play with my friends outside as the only dire life-choices they have to make for the day as well as for the remainder of their summer.
In fact, any time they claim to be "SO bored" it takes everything in me not to go all Billy Madison on them and squeeze their faces until they learn to appreciate these times. ( Don't you say that! Don't you ever say that. Stay here. Stay here as long as you can. For the love of God, cherish it. You have to cherish it!)
But I don't because, well, they're kids and it is kind of their job to not really know just how good they have it. Otherwise, how else are they going to look back and realize how amazing being a kid really was and want to kick their own asses for not realizing it sooner? I can't rob them of that painful epiphany.
There are other memorable and adventurous ways to live out your summers as an adult, I'm sure. Traveling overseas, foreign excursions, lengthy family vacations or staycations, and catered retreats are just a few that any successful adult would enjoy partaking in during the summer.
And if I just described one or two or all of the things happening in your summer months, well then, congratu-freaking-lations. You are adulting the right way so hard right now.
But, if you are like me, and only have hopes of being able to escape this hell on a summer's day heat for more than a handful of times, we've got some work to do.
All aboard the struggle ship! Don't worry—there are plenty of cocktails to help drown your sorrows! They may not have the little umbrellas, the wine is boxed and the liquor is definitely not top shelf, but they will still lower your inhibitions, get you good and drunk, and blur life's demands for awhile.
Let's be real—backpacking through Europe is not an option for me at the moment, but I sure as hell would like it to be in the future. In order for that to happen, I'm going to need to put in some honest hard work. Because watching an entire season on Netflix in one day is not going to get me any closer to tasting warm crepes in Paris—even if it is a series dedicated to warm crepes in Paris.
I am going to have to be the kid that has to take summer school or the kid whose parents made them get a summer job. On second thought, I need to be the kid who has to do both!
This summer is going to be more work than play, yes, but that doesn't mean it has to be filled with sadness.
Something that I discovered about Lana Del Rey's song Summertime Sadness, is that she is singing about the way it feels to mourn the freedoms, relationships, and moments that could have been had in a summer that was now ending. She is droning on and on about time and opportunities wasted—a season heated by regret.
So, I am in luck! I've caught the blazing blues early. And I have plenty of time to figure out how to treat them.
I like to believe that it is possible to get shit done and enjoy life simultaneously. It might not be ideal on the tough days, but there has got to be some sort of balance. After all, if you can't find outlets for joy in the place you are currently living, it might be more than just a vacation to somewhere else you should consider.
I have my family here. I have friends here. I have books to help me travel. I have places I can go that feel like a temporary escape. I have the option to donate my time to help those that are already in my community—the ones that aren't asking for a summer vacation, but rather a break from life's hardships.
Long conversations with my grandma, a short trip to see my brothers, "just because" dinners with my best friends, a great summer reading list, taking advantage of the beautiful places that already surround me, volunteering my spare time to others in need—these are just a few things on my Suck-It Summer Sadness to-do list.
These may not be the ideal ways to spend a summer for some or worthy of likes on Instagram or shares on Facebook, but they are worthy of me and my time. I want to try and do things this summer that will enhance my relationships and increase my love for others—it might be the best way to elevate the love we have for ourselves.
I do not want to waste any more of my time missing the kind of summers I once had. I also do not want to pout about and pine over the kind of summer I wish I was having or think I deserve. Those days will come.
No, I think this summer won't be focused on how much it sucks to have to take the heat, but rather how much of it I can create and preserve to keep me warm. Because life can still decide to bring on the cold—even on a hot day in July. And we all know the weather has nothing to do with that kind of storm.