I’ve always loved the idea of summer more than summer itself. When I think of summer, I think of possibilities. Maybe I’ve read too many YA novels, where the season often represents an idyllic in-between time when anything is possible. Maybe that’s why I love YA novels so much. Everything in your life can change between May and September.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz describes it this way in his book Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe:
I loved and hated summers. Summers had a logic all their own and they always brought something out in me. Summer was supposed to be about freedom and youth and no school and possibilities and adventure and exploration. Summer was a book of hope. That’s why I loved and hated summers. Because they made me want to believe.”
In reality, summers are less glamorous. They’re hot, humid, and don’t even get me started on the mosquitos! Growing up on an apple orchard, summer meant long hours of tedious farm labor: crawling up and down ladders and digging up weeds in the dirt. Even when I worked as a camp counselor and the season was everything it’s promised to be, I never got enough sleep, was perpetually dirty, and there were always campers to care for.
Every year, I go into the warm months with rose-tinted glasses. I’m filled with so many ideas for all the people I will see and adventures we will have. Every year, I reach the middle of August and realize all I did was sit at home, mow the lawn, and read a lot of books.
This summer, though, I wanted things to be different.
This summer, I wanted to believe.
I’m happy to report, friends, that I did it. I reached out and had the summer I always wanted. When my summer classes ended in June, I started making plans. My weekends filled. I went hiking once a week, sometimes more. I tagged along with friends to new breweries and cideries. I got coffee and walked around one of Minneapolis’ many lakes with a childhood friend. I attended a live podcast, multiple free concerts, and the State Fair. I spent a weekend alone on the North Shore, soaking in solitude and reflecting on my inner world. I spent five days on a road trip to Michigan with some of my closest friends. I visited Rochester L’Abri twice and both weekends were perfect bookends to my summer.
Of course, things weren’t always easy. I bear my share of disappointments, uncertainties, and fatigue. Over the past few months, I’ve felt a shifting inside me that’s hard to put to words. I felt the future is pulling me forward, but I didn’t know where it would lead. I sensed things would be changing and quickly, but I didn’t know how. I could see glimpses of the pieces that needed to fall into place, but wasn’t sure if they would.
On a whole, it was the summer I always longed for.
Sadly, such seasons never last.
August is fading quickly. The days are getting shorter. There’s a chill in the evening that whispers of changing leaves. At my family’s apple orchard, the harvest is already underway.
I have a busy fall ahead. The premonition of change turned out to be true and the pieces have fallen together. My next semester of graduate school starts in a few days. I received a promotion at work and will be transitioning to a new, larger library over the next couple months. If that wasn’t enough, I’m hoping to move out of my parent’s house and into my own apartment before the end of the year.
It’s daunting to stand at the beginning of a busy season. There will be challenges ahead. There will be sleepless nights, endless hours in coffee shops writing papers, and (probably) emotional meltdowns. But I’m thankful for this summer. I had a chance to spend quality time with the people I care about. These memories will keep me going during the next season. I can look back on the memories made, places visited, and friendships deepened. A bustling season of adventure and fun was exactly what I needed.
Now I’m on to whatever lies ahead.
How was your summer, friends? To use Sáenz’s beautiful words, did it make you want to believe?