Like me, many first-year college students are home right now, relaxing or starting a summer job or going on vacations or anything else that one does over the summer when they're home and don't have to worry about school. Summer has, for all of our lives, been a time of peacefulness and relaxation, even if it involves the occasional getting up for work or doing an assignment due in the fall for school.
We know that it's part of childhood, summers off, but we always treat it the same and enjoy it while it's still here until it fades away into the fall and classes come back again.
We all know this cycle will eventually come to an end, a fact that, while none will deny it, most do not think about on a daily basis. I have to admit I didn't either, and to this point, I wasn't expecting it for some time. I always figured that the end of my childhood summers would come in my early- or mid-20s, once schooling was done and a career had begun for me.
Instead, my summer has less than a week left (and by the time this is published, it will already be over). I was afforded an excellent opportunity that I could not be more thankful for this summer, and while it is excellent for my future both in my potential career and my time here at Stony Brook University, it represents something I wasn't ready to accept: the end of that childhood summer.
Part of the situation is that I would be required to be back in Stony Brook, NY for the summer. I live in New York already, so it might not seem too bad to the people reading this from outside of New York, but it's much farther than people may understand. Stony Brook is a couple of hours onto Long Island, whereas my home is about an hour north of New York City.
Again, it might not seem too bad, but that means that, at a minimum, to come home is over three hours. Factor in commuters, summer traffic, construction, and accidents, and to drive home from where I'll be working could easily take almost five hours. Again, that might not be terrible for some people, but it's not something that I've ever really experienced before this past fall when I started college.
I'm not asking for pity here since this is by no means a tragedy of any sort, but I do wish to explain what's happening to me. Even if I'm only a few hours by car away from home and I'm going to come home at some point (probably mid-July), I don't feel like I have a summer.
At the very least, I'm missing a month of it and at very most, I'm missing almost two months of it to this opportunity I've been afforded (which again, I cannot be more thankful for) and the classes I signed up to take while I'm down in Stony Brook.
This is just one of the consequences of growing up.
Many others lose this long before I have, getting full-time jobs when they're still in high school or going to summer school, and many lose it in a much less ceremonial manner than I have, but still, this comes for all of us.
Like everything else, things change with time and maturity. Friendships that have stood the test of time peter out, things that could captivate you for hours suddenly become boring and pointless, and opportunities to do things seem to fade away and outright disappear. I've seen it in my brief time here at home, not being able to see my friends for one reason or another. Whether it be because of work or availability or any other variable, these opportunities seem to evaporate before our eyes.
I know I'm not the only one experiencing this, nor am I probably the only one to write about it, but I do want to share my view on it. We all eventually lose summer, something so menial and yet so important to us at an earlier point in our lives. It goes from being a reprieve, a time of rest, a break, to just another season, and while my transition to that is nowhere near complete, the process has begun and it has taken me by surprise.
To say I look forward to this change is to be a liar, but to say I don't look forward to what's causing the change is a lie as well. A job, an excellent opportunity with the university and everything else coming my way this summer all have me excited for this coming Monday (or this past Monday, when this is published), but also dreading what it represents.
That's what growing up is like, I suppose, and this is really my first taste when it comes to something so symbolic as summer.
Am I ready to give up something so integral to my childhood as summer? No, not really. But am I ready to charge forward towards this change in my life? You bet I am!
I couldn't be more excited for what's to come and, even now, I prepare myself for what to many may not seem like a big change but for me is a major transition in life. It represents that much more of my past that I'm giving up to become what I've always worked towards, and while it is bittersweet to lose it, I couldn't be more excited!