Years ago, I found myself in an hour-long phone conversation. It was with a friend from middle school–a darling woman I met when we were 13. Back then, one of us had just transferred schools and was wearing a uniform-approved khaki skort (me)–the other had staples for earrings (her). Cut to ten-plus years later and I’m walking thirty blocks down from the office, chatting away until the summer sun set or my phone died, whichever came first. She was telling me about a particularly fun, post-breakup romp with a new person around town but justifying her choices at every pause. After listening to her excuse her summer love for what might have been the hundredth time, I stopped her.

“Here’s the thing, though,” I began, with a blind authority one only gains upon their 23rd birthday and immediately loses at their 25th, “It’s summer. And nobody really needs to get their shit together until the fall.”
At the time, I was enjoying my own bout of irresponsibility and felt particularly emboldened by my statement. She agreed and ended our chat resolving to “choose her choices”–and all the other tropes you recite for a few years out of college.
Yet, that statement has proven to be more true than my early-twenties self could’ve realized. Summer is the time for impulsive choices and slacking off. It’s for putting off errands and going to a stranger’s rooftop part. It’s for putting off laundry and just wearing one fabulous cotton dress after another. It’s certainly not the time for slut shaming your own damn self. In fact, throw all shame out the window in summer. Cause for serious, we all sweat. And most of us chafe. So yeah, summer is great. And every year I’ve lived here has brought one amazing summer after another. Because of course it did! That’s what summer is all about–being the fucking best. Or worst? But definitely the most immature. Here’s three summers that prove my point.
***
There was the last summer of college. I was staying on campus as a summer RA. The official line was that I was getting an internship to become a better journalist. In reality, I’d fallen in love and needed any excuse to spend my summer with him. By June, I was living alone on the third floor of a mostly-desolate dorm. My boyfriend never came back from helping his mom move upstate. “Half price apps” and self-loathing naps became a routine. Adele’s “19” was always playing. At some point, I got an unpaid internship writing about custom perfume and $80 face powder and a paying job at the campus library. I spent all my money on DVDs, hair accessories, and candy from Target. Monday afternoons with the one friend still taking classes on campus saved me. We’d go for Buffalo chicken pizza and moose tracks ice cream across the street from school, then drive to beach and sit until the sun came down. There’s no like knowing you have nothing to do. Nothing for months. Senior year was around the corner, graduation not too far away. But the dread of working for a lifetime was looming so far in the distance, I could barely see it in my knockoff Raybans.

Drink of choice: Mike’s Hard Lemonade

***
There was the first summer I moved to New York. We’d found a three-bedroom in a strange wasteland of a place called Long Island City. We said it was perfect cause every bedroom had a closet and enough space for a mattress. Moving in was easy cause we didn’t own anything. Filling our days was tough. I spent hours reading in parks and watching movies on friends’ couches (friends who had AC). I ate a lot of popcorn and popsicles and binge-watched Degrassi on a channel Nick Cannon said he owned. Someone taught me the joy of sneaking a tallboy into the movies. On weekends, we drank in the backyards of people who’d found jobs. Then in the bars next to their apartments. Then on the rooftops of friends of friends who’d just moved to Hell’s Kitchen. Or to Astoria. Or wherever people move when they first get here. Every conversation included, “I’m looking to get into…” Nobody got into anything, not even each other’s pants. Some people moved to LA.

Drink of choice: PBR

***
There was the summer I dated that hot guy. Literally the hottest person I’d ever seen in real life. The one I met on Memorial Day. The one whose apartment I lived in most of the week. The one who asked me to meet his friends. And go to his hometown. And live his life. I was so smitten with the whole thing that by July, I was barely ever home. It helped that he only lived 10 minutes from where I worked. I love a short commute. By August, he told me I didn’t want get married. In September, he forgot my birthday. When football season started, we broke up.

Drink of choice: Vodka cranberry

Illustration by Ashley Lukashevsky.

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