Summer is unique among seasons. It’s hot and it usually feels different compared to the rest of the year. Summertime in childhood was unstructured and free. My younger sister and I rode our bikes in the afternoons to the small town pool and relished in cool water and friends. The rest of the day was broken up by books and maybe some TV time and playing with friends and cousins. My mom required us to do a few chores, but the joy of summer was in the lack of structure. We usually had longer visits at my dad’s in the summer. In high school, the summer got invaded by a couple of weeks of sports camps or free learning opportunities, and part-time summer jobs. The fun of summer, though, was still in the heat and the relaxation.
After college, the summer took on less definition, because my day-to-day looked much the same as the rest of the year. Then I changed careers to environmental education and one of my favorite and least favorite parts to my job was that it followed the school year, meaning I didn’t have a job for two months of the year. Most years, I put together some part-time work with the same organization, often filling in for other staff member’s vacations, or taking on extra duties. The charm of the summer, though, was that I was doing something different compared to the rest of the year. One year, I took part of the summer off to pursue writing.
That different summer feeling continued for years, even when I moved from Colorado to Albuquerque. The first summer in Albuquerque, I took another summer off, having saved up enough to enjoy a job-free summer before returning to my school-year environmental education job, and the next summer, I worked for the city bio-park summer camp program. Then in the fall, two years ago, I switched jobs to attend massage therapy school. I have kept the same job over these past two summers. I had assumed that by this summer, I would be licensed and practicing massage, even if I still kept my full-time job as I built up a clientele. The school closed in November, and I am scrambling to pick up the loose ends and shattered dreams, while figuring out next steps. This is a summer of rebuilding and reconfiguring.
Summer is heat and company and enjoyment and plans. People plan vacations and family reunions. People, even those needing to stay close to home, take on a vacation air in their daily lives. We cook out for dinner and the summer air mixes with our food. We hunker down in air conditioned movie theaters to escape the heat and to the daily grind. We curl up with books on patios, we stay up late to enjoy the stillness and relatively cool air. We drink cocktails or cold beers on work nights. We invite people over for impromptu dinners and potlucks. We relax and decompress, even while working and doing all that we usually do.
There is a respite, even a reset, to summer. There is a distinct summer vibe that goes beyond shorts and sandals.
I usually make some sort of a plan, even a goal for the summer. This summer, I am hunkering down, working, and staying put. I have a pile of books by the bedside I want to read. I renewed a language learning app, so I can take on summer Spanish, yet again. I have a workout plan full of yoga, running, and swimming. I have an ambitious plan to finish a first draft for a book of essays, focusing on food and memories. I am looking into taking on a second job teaching English. I am using the summer to explore and research a new educational opportunity and a self-study plan for a new career certification. I made a list of some day trips and hikes for exploring this summer. Despite my ambitious list, my biggest plan is to relax.
I pursue summer with optimism and for a sense of the unstructured, the time for dreams and making them come true.