Now hear me out. You won’t see a magician pull a rabbit out of a top hat or anyone disappear before your eyes (or hey, maybe you will; I don’t know how you like to spend your free time), but ever since I was a kid summer has always been special to me. Maybe it’s the warm weather, which is a welcomed miracle having grown up in the Boston area, or maybe it’s the fact that my birthday falls on either the last day of spring or the first day of summer every year, ensuring that it is always the kick off to my favorite season. Whatever the reason, the air is just different this time of year—it’s enchanting.
As a kid, the source of that enchantment was a little more obvious: a three-month long vacation from school. Once the bell rang on the last day and I was walking home from the bus stop, nothing could stop me. I had about 10 weeks ahead of me where my biggest worry would be what game to play outside (FYI, dodge ball and wiffle ball were the neighborhood favorites). Summer as a kid meant family vacations, birthday parties, frequent trips for ice cream, tire swings, swimming, bike riding, playgrounds, water balloon fights, freeze pops, mini golf, play dates, rollerblading, beach days, no homework, amusement parks, and time with neighborhood friends.
In middle school and high school summer still felt the same way. Shopping trips, late night three-way calls with friends on the cordless long before I had a cell phone, the eagerness I felt to be near a body of water, discovering new music, rainy day AOL Instant Messenger conversations on dial-up internet, aimless drives with a new license in hand—it all contributed to the charm of summer. I remember many sleepovers with friends spent in the one air-conditioned room in my house, staying up late laughing while watching movies or making prank phone calls to boys we thought were cute.
One of my friends and I used to begin our summers in middle school and even high school by writing wish lists, which were really just lists of things we hoped would happen during the summer. Go on a road trip, go to the beach at least ten times, fall in love, get a tan, have a summer fling, go to the mall, write a novel. It didn’t matter how random, silly or unattainable some of the wishes were, or whether or not we got everything accomplished; we mainly looked forward to writing these together each year. Now any of these items could have happened during fall, winter or spring—maybe with the exception of a summer fling—but for some reason they only felt attainable during June, July and August. Summer was our season and we were invincible.
The magic carried over into the college years when summer was extended from May through September. For me, these were the summers I really experienced life while also pretending the real world wasn’t lurking in the near future (or maybe I was just blissfully ignorant). Summer days were spent getting sun kissed, and summer nights were spent, well, just getting kissed. Either way those summers meant parties, laying out by the pool, spontaneous drives at night, Jack & Cokes, getting tan (or in my case red), rooftop bars in Boston, days at the beach, getting tipsy off of Arbor Mist because it was what we could afford, beer pong and flip cup tournaments, night swimming, and of course ice cream, because you’re never too old for that. These were the years my friends were more important to me than ever and summer was a prime time to continue growing and laughing with the ones I loved.
Now as I’m older and out of school with a full-time job things have changed somewhat. Summer has become soaking up the sun on just Saturdays and Sundays, casual dress at work, pitchers of sangria, runs at twilight, patio happy hours, cookouts with my family, tailgating at country concerts, feeling the breeze of an open window while falling asleep, and ice cold water (and ice cream). Summer may be different now, but there’s still that same allure—though I wish my job would recognize the entire summer season as an extended holiday. And as someone who grew up never being in school on her birthday, yes I will be using a vacation day for it this year. I’ll be turning 27 and it’s very likely everyone I know will be working, but I don’t care because it’s the start of a new summer and with that comes magic.