At the beginning of finals week, summer vacation is a destination outside of view: as imaginary and romantic as a Nicholas Sparks novel. From that point in the year, the large chunk of time between spring and fall semester might look like a summer vacation. Hell, it might even sound like summer vacation with the ideas of having no classes on campus, no school club meetings or dorm policies to obey and no dining hall food to question. But let’s not be fooled by the classic title of ‘Summer Vacation’ that has been brought to us by movies and books and the many boards on Pinterest.
At the peak of finals week, stress levels are high and account balances are dipping dangerously low considering the amount of coffee still needed for the remainder of the semester. This was about the time when everything on my to-do list felt like it would literally jump out and strangle me. This was also the time I began to wonder how I would fit everything into one suitcase and two duffle bags...But from the peak of finals week, I could see summer in view. I'm an optimist, so much so that if there were a certification for looking on the bright side I would have it, but all I could see of summer vacation from the peak of finals week was work. For me, that meant seeing the inside of an ice cream cooler and one broken, swollen wrist. It meant myself tell each and every confused customer that yes, the napkins are behind them until I mopped, cleaned every surface and passed out in bed at night.
Summer is a time of sunsets. It is an image of the world in bloom with guitars next to bonfires next to oceans that come in and out with of the tides of a waxing and waning moon. Thoughts of summer traditionally include sunshine, lemonade, the beach and if you're a traditional college kid: a summer job. If every college freshman learns one thing in common, he or she learns that everything about college is expensive. The late night trips for pizza and the early redemption trips for smoothies the next morning. The coffee and tea adds up, and just when you thought you’d forgotten about summer responsibilities, they're back.
So, there I was at four in the morning, standing in front of the JetBlue check-in attendant crying, sweating and trying to relocate ten pounds of clothing into a North Face backpack. It was either that scene, or a one hundred dollar withdrawal from my zeroed-out bank account. Needless to say, I had no choice but to expose the entire contents of my luggage to the line behind me in my adventure of reorganizing and redistributing it all into one Borealis backpack. It wasn’t easy.
I was crying because I had just said goodbye to my boyfriend, because I was emotionally exhausted from packing and moving and storing my life away from home and because I was caught between ten pounds of my clothing and one hundred dollars; neither of which I could afford to lose. The solution to my problem was clear, and I could feel how close I was getting to punching my time card and selling my tan for days at my local ice cream shop.