I consider myself very lucky to have a summer break. It is indeed one of the perks of teaching, and I look forward to it all year, every year. However, there is a certain amount of pressure that creeps in once April hits. This is when I begin to field the inevitable question:
“So, what are you doing over summer vacation?”
Two years ago, I visited Arizona and Nevada for a two week jaunt; this was one of the my favorite trips I’ve ever taken, next to my travels to Italy and Southern California. Last year, Mike and I got married, and we went to Hawaii. A double dose of greatness.
This year, my answer was, “Well, we moved to a new house,” but this doesn’t have the panache of an exotic trip. Moving does take a lot of time and effort, but I never imagined that it’d be mid-July before I made a trip to the beach.
In all, my favorite season was kind of lousy, something I never saw coming in the younger days of spring. For weeks, I’ve been in denial about the impending semester, not because I dislike my job, but because the summer was nothing like I hoped it would be. When you look forward to something all year long, it’s hard to accept the disappointment of a lackluster outcome.
Some might say that I should be grateful for the time off regardless of the absence of excitement. This might be true, but do you know that feeling you get on Sunday night? That little pang of sadness that the weekend is over? Well, magnify that x100,000. That is how it feels when summer comes to an end, no matter the level of fun/adventure of said vacation.
Today was the official last day of my break, and I was determined to enjoy it despite the cool weather and the rain. I wasn’t sure of the exact path I’d take today, but I knew that in order to get the most of the day, I couldn’t lay around in my pajamas past one pm.
However, I could stay in my pajamas until noon. After all, sloth is part of what makes vacation so great.
Don’t judge me.
I thought about seeing a movie, but after perusing the offerings and the start times, there was nothing that appealed to me. So, I decided to shop.
In the past weeks, I spent some quality time in the mall, doing some back-to-school shopping, so today was more of a leisure stroll. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. Well, okay, if I found a pair of black sandals, I might consider them, but it was more about just taking note of all the things I’d like to buy.
Sometimes, it’s just feels good to get out there.
While making my lap, I felt the pull of H & M. I like this store because (a) it’s inexpensive and (b) I can buy clothes that are only relevant for a season or two and not feel guilty about the splurge.
While deciding whether or not to purchase a belt, a rack of cute shirts caught my attention. I sauntered over, checked the price (great), the availability of the size and color I liked (terrific). I even tried one on to make sure the fit was right (perfect). How could I not take it home with me?
Soon after, I left the mall and ventured to a few more stores before I found myself getting hungry. On a typical day, I don’t eat a big lunch. Instead, I tend to grab whatever is available in the house, healthy or not–usually not. A snack sized bag of Cheetos? Sure. Granola bar? Why not. A couple of hands of Goldfish Crackers and an apple? Mmmmmm.
“It’s your last day of vacation! Don’t you deserve a delicious, unreasonably priced lunch?”
Indeed I did. And it was everything I wanted it to be. And more.
As I savored the last bite of my tomato mozzarella panini, I decided that the last stop of the day would be DSW for some shoe shopping. While I wasn’t really shopping for black sandals, I began taking a mental inventory of my closet, and I realized that I could really use some footwear.
With joy, I discovered that it is the perfect time to shoe shop. Not only did I find that the sandals I wanted were super on-sale, but I also picked up two pairs of the most marvy flats, also on sale (one pair was 80% off).
Sure, I could have done a lot more with my last day of freedom, but as I pulled into the garage, I noticed that I was smiling as I sang along to my favorite Yes song. It might have been a simple day, but it was a good one.
Starting tomorrow, I will have to wake up to an alarm. I will have to start planning my outfits and spending my nights preparing for classes. Soon, I will have a pile of papers to grade, and I’ll have to sacrifice whole evenings and afternoons making my way through the stacks of student writing. And as much as I hate to admit it, it won’t take long for me to sink into the busyness of it all.
I may not have had the most stellar summer vacation, but I was fortunate enough to move into a new home, to take some day-trips to the beach, to get away for a long weekend, to spend a day in Atlantic City with the family, to sleep in every day, to spend my days in shorts and t-shirts and to really just breathe. And though I’ll mourn the loss of this summer, I know that I can still cling to the happiness of all these things until the next one.
Be good to me, fall semester. Please.