I remember spending long summer days picking honeysuckles and lighting things on fire and not wearing appropriate safety equipment while sitting on a skateboard rolling down a hill that felt steeper than it probably was. I couldn’t and still cannot skateboard, but that’s less of an issue now. I also remember time feeling limitless, like seconds were tired from the heat and hours laboriously meandered so that a few months of summer felt longer than everything that came before.
I remember summer seeming long, but I think that is less because of how much an energetic child with limited supervision can pack into a day and more to do with the fact that 3 months feels really long when that accounts for 1/20th of the entire time you’ve been alive. Summer felt long because I didn’t have much to compare it to. Of course a few months would feel like an eternity to a child; they’ve never done anything that lasted that long. Seasons, school years, and your parents seeing a friend at a grocery store are the longest events in a child’s life so it’s natural that summer would feel like just enough of forever to have a good time.
I’m old enough now that I’ve exhausted all the joke consequences that loom over most innocent youths. The only time I’ll go to bed without dinner now is if I didn’t have the money for food or the energy to cook it. If I break a rule, I can’t go to detention anymore because I’ve aged out of all the fake prisons a person can get sent to so now they’d just toss me into a real one. And if I do something to hurt myself, then my body is just going to hurt because I’m not loaded with whatever it is that would let child-me fall off a wall three times my height and only worry about how I can turn falling into a game.
I’m an adult. Summer doesn’t feel like forever anymore. Mine ends in a week, and where once a week only measured the time between Saturday morning cartoons, now it comes with obligations. I start two new teaching jobs in a week, and so far my curriculum is at the same conception stage almost all of my essays would be in right up until the night before they were due: sure, I’ve been thinking about what I’ll have to do, but the actual doing of it is a job for future me. I’ve been enjoying myself.
I’ve slept in every day that my cat hasn’t managed to wake me up at 4. I’ve been released from the tension of grad school and teaching and responding to emails and meeting with people I don’t like but need to like me, and it has been incredible. I’ve been steadily climbing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs like an emotional tomb raider. I have food that I both like and that doesn’t fill me with dread when I eat it and later look at pictures of cute animals. I’m safe because I don’t have to often worry about anyone busting down my door or robbing me while I sleep, and I’ve got some EpiPens that protect me from bees and can chemically fuck a motherfucker up if they attack me. I have the love and intimacy thing down because living with my partner is basically a lifelong sleepover, and I have a few friends for whom I would inflict death by crossbow upon anyone who wronged them. The last two entries in the pyramid are a little more nebulous, but I don’t scream every time I look in the mirror anymore, so there’s progress there. This is not meant to be the least humble humblebrag. I promise I’m still afflicted with constant feelings of self-loathing, doubt, and a general certainty of my own incompetence. What this is saying is that summer ends in a week.
Anyone can heal and become a better version of themselves when there are almost no obstacles stopping them. I’ve had enough saved income to survive off of, and almost nothing else to occupy myself beyond catching up on old video games, sleeping, or petting either one of two cute furry animals. Who wouldn’t come out of a few weeks with proper rest, food, and hobbies and not feel better than they did before.
But now there will be obstacles. I was lucky to have this window where I could start being a real person again. Not many people have that; they’re just asked to deal with their shit while they’re dealing with all the other shit that made things shitty in the first place. I’m done with school. There will never be another time in which the only thing I am is a student. I’ve got enough weeks under my belt so one more doesn’t feel like much. Time isn’t going to prolong itself so I can revisit the feeling of stabbing prickly pears with a stick in a gully, and there won’t be as many opportunities for me to hide in the blankets instead of acknowledging the real world. In a week, it looks like I get started doing what everyone else does: work until you can’t anymore, and it’s going to be the longest time I ever spend on anything.