How long can I allow myself to keep chasing the summer of my childhood?

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How long can I allow myself to keep chasing the summer of my childhood?

“Every summer, like the roses, childhood returns.” — Marty Rubin

In limbo between childhood and adulthood, who I am changes with the seasons. During the school year, I am a student with adult responsibilities and expectations. I am trapped within the confines of homework and schedules. I am a slave to a detrimental lack of sleep. I am weighted down by a crippling load, both in my backpack and on my mind.

It’s at the final ring of the school bell that I break free. I am released from these confines into the infinite possibilities of summer. The burden that lifts off my chest leaves me feeling as light as air. I am finally free—free as a bird on the wind.

In the summer, I am a child again.

In the summer, I forget my shoes, allowing my bare feet to dance in the cool grass. I wear dresses and skirts that twirl playfully around my legs. I celebrate my freedom to its fullest capacity. Because for a blissful three months, the strain of adulthood is a long forgotten worry.

In the summer, it’s light and sunny and warm all the time. I can fall asleep in the grass, with no worries of the consequences. I can feel the grass prickling my scalp and the sun warming my face; I’m grateful that my mom reminded me to put on sunscreen.

In the summer, I sleep whenever I want, staying up late and not waking until noon. I sleep wherever I want: a tent, a hammock, or a friend’s couch. I sleep when I’m tired, rather than whenever I have a free moment. And I’m never lacking sleep, an odd concept to the school-year me.

In the summer, I can explore and go on spontaneous excursions. Like a child experiencing the world for the first time, I am curious and I allow that curiosity to lead me wherever it wants to go. I see more of the world, visiting new cities and states. I forget real life for blissful periods of time and allow myself to experience only the moment I am presently in.

In the summer, I read constantly, just like I used to. With so much time on my hands, I am finally free to get lost in new stories and worlds. I devour words on a page, without worrying that I’m wasting valuable work time. I read wherever, whenever. In the car, while my mom runs errands. At the park, while my family plays with our dog. At the beach, while loud music plays and water splashes onto towels. On my couch, while the AC blasts and everybody is out. In bed late at night, when the only sound is the crickets chirping through the open window.

In the summer, I am the truest version of me. I’m inspired and happy. I’m a bookworm. I wear dresses and no shoes. I’m spontaneous and passionate. I spend time with my friends, I laugh freely. I have no cares, no worries. I feel like I can conquer the world.

But the inevitable end of summer leaves me feeling depleted and sad. Two weeks into the school year, and a more muted and dull version of myself reappears. I am once again chasing summer.

It’s terrifying to think I only have three more summers before high school is over and I am released into the adult world. And before then, I’m expected to get a job and start taking on more responsibilities. In fact, this may be my last summer of complete freedom and ease.

Next summer I’ll have a job and a car. I’ll be free in new ways, more in control of my life. But the easy childlike freedom will no longer be existent. My freedom will come at a cost.

I’m scared of that point in time when I’ll find myself no longer chasing summer. What happens when adulthood becomes permanent, and summer is no longer a temporary relief from responsibilities and stress? What happens when I’m forced to admit that I will never catch summer again — forced to admit that chasing it is futile?

But as adulthood looms dangerously closer every day, I have to stop and wonder: did it all go by too fast?”

I’ve always wanted to grow up. I’ve never loved the lack of control I often feel over my own life. But as adulthood looms dangerously closer every day, I have to stop and wonder: did it all go by too fast?

I’m sure that being an adult will have all manner of perks and benefits. I’m sure I’ll find a way to enjoy that time in my life. I’ll find my way in the world. I’ll discover a purpose. And that is, of course, inevitable. Everybody reaches a point in their life when they are forced to grow up, forced to find their way. But it doesn’t mean that it’s easy.

It’s honestly bittersweet that the perfect ease of summer will be a thing of the past in just a few short years. While summer may still bring sunlight, bonfires, and beach excursions, it won’t bring complete freedom from responsibilities. And that’s just a part of growing up.

But as I hang in limbo between adulthood and childhood, I’ll appreciate those moments of summer.

I’ll keep chasing summer while I can.

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