Teachers are decorating bulletin boards, kids are buying sparkly pencil boxes, and parents of college freshmen are flocking to Bed Bath and Beyond to buy shower caddies. Labor Day is looming. It seems like the end of summer, doesn’t it?
Not to me.
When you’re in school, whether as a kid or a teacher, summer officially begins on the last day of school and ends on the first day of school. Summer is an ephemeral, limited time of year with a finite length; and if it’s August 22 and you still haven’t made it over to the water park — oh well, you missed your chance, wait ’til next summer.
But when you’re a real adult, summer has no bounds.
If you have a year-round big-girl job like me, how do you define summer? For me, summer is a state of mind. And I intend to live in that state forever.
Summer is when people are willing to spend time outside, just doing nothing. Summer is neighborhood block parties, food festivals, and outdoor concerts. Summer is the shining sun; the rising moon; and going to the beach, even when it’s raining.
Summer is when friends bump into each other on the street, forget about their intended destinations, and walk together toward the nearest scoop of gelato.
Summer is when bikers, rollerbladers, and outdoor runners make it seem that the earth is spinning at twice the normal speed; but yet, you feel like you have all the time in the world.
Summer is when everything smells like barbecued chicken, sunscreen, grilled corn, and sand.
Summer is the feeling of relaxation, the feeling of togetherness, the feeling that your hair blowing in the wind is the only thing you really need to feel.
Summer only ends when we allow this feeling to die.
When the jackets come out, when the bus station heat lamps turn on, when the windows are shut; when late-night Frisbee games turn into watching football streamed online, alone; this is when summer ends.
As we rake the leaves, we’re raking a feeling into the gutters as well. We forget that doing nothing — with good people and a little bit of sunscreen — is a rare gift.
Though students and teachers are heading back to school, we all have the opportunity to prolong summer. Grab some boots and venture out into whatever Mother Nature throws at us. Organize an impromptu indoor pool party with friends. And don’t forget to grill your corn.
If we live life like a summer festival — complete with ’80s cover bands, artsy jewelry, and fried Oreos — summer can last forever.