To summer, my sentimental salute

Capturing+the+beauty+of+the+Dominican+Republic%2C+this+image+is+a+perfect+representation+of+one+of+my+summer+highlights.+

Claire Larson

Capturing the beauty of the Dominican Republic, this image is a perfect representation of one of my summer highlights.

I expected it to slowly slip through my fingers—memories turning into grains of sand as they drift back to the ocean. Instead, I was bombarded with the waves, cascading over me until the sand escaped me forever.

It’s only been three weeks of school, and I already feel that summer was a lifetime away. I had quickly fallen into the pattern of “busy,” jumping from one extracurricular to the next with only enough pause to sleep. While I should fully envelope myself into the groove of school, I am desperate to hang onto my last memories of summer; it is time to properly thank three months of my life that held a world of joy. 

Frolicking into the summer of 2022, the Caribbean sun tickled my skin and welcomed me to the tropics of the island; the laughter of my cousins bounced around the waters of my pool, and I was thrown into my final year of Band Camp with a Motown music medley. 

I’m still spinning in the multitude of memories that pieced together my favorite summer yet. Improv rehearsals, saxophone lessons, and babysitting nights offered brief blips of excitement while summer homework, homecoming preparations, and college applications served as a constant reminder that my senior year was around the next bend. 

These three short months have transformed my outlook on the world. A trip to the Dominican Republic celebrated the beauty of our similarities and differences; by working with the people in the Dominican community, our small but mighty group was able to improve playgrounds, paint houses, and plant trees. From ziplining to horseback riding, the island also allowed me to embrace the beauties of nature and explore a realm far outside of my comfort zone. 

My family’s encouragement and a fantastic group of travel buddies made the experience even better than I imagined. Coming home with an improved grasp of the Spanish language and culture, I was welcomed back into the flow of my final high school summer, discovering that this exhilarating adventure was only the beginning.

Next was a compilation of game nights with friends and family along with parties by the pool. I needed to keep myself occupied while my twin sister went off to drum major camp—marking the first ever week spent apart. In hundreds of small ways, my life drastically changed without my best friend by my side. I missed her terribly, but I also grew to love the independence I found.

Each event crashed against the shores of summer. The sands of time continued sifting through my fingers, but I never took a day for granted as each moment sprinkled across the calendar. ”

— Lauren Brace

Just as she returned, I was whisked away on another brief trip to see her new friends. Each event crashed against the shores of summer. The sands of time continued sifting through my fingers, but I never took a day for granted as each moment sprinkled across the calendar. 

The next stop was in the name of love as I practiced Motown marching band tunes of Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and The Supremes. Melodies and rhythms enveloped me in excitement and pride—a successful start to the marching season. Even as the sun beat down and turf pellets embedded themselves into my shoes, I couldn’t help but smile as I looked around and saw myself surrounded by my closest friends. 

Then two trips in a row: north to Mackinac Island and south to Chicago. During both, my wings expanded into the adventures blown in my direction. Whether it was kayaking to watch the sun dip below the horizon or walking to delicious deep-dish pizza, these memories stand out amidst the chaos. 

Family, friends, and fantastic strangers embraced me into their circles, giving me the strongest attachment and sense of belonging I’d ever felt before. I seek no validation for continuing to reminisce with these memories; they have prepared me perfectly for the challenges of senior year. 

Goodbye summer of 2022, thanks for everything.