Remember when summers seemed endless? When days felt like weeks and weeks, months and by September we were different people than we were in June? Those summers we’d lose track of dates except when reading letters from home, lose track of time when the sky became the color of a Creamsicle before melting into pink and then black. We’d fall back and see the stars as we had done only in planetariums. The long grass itching at our necks, fireflies buzzing in our ears.
Summers now have a way of speeding up, with each day a race to the finish. What moments there are must fit into deadlines. Days begin at nine and end at five. Rent is due on the 1st. Happy hour ends at seven. We’re so caught up with the quotidian routine that one minute it’s June and the next it’s August. We try to freeze moments with Instagram and Twitter but even those become replaced and forgotten.
We needed less in summers then. There were rope swings into lakes and sing-alongs with dented guitars. Some summers we lived in cabins or tents and survived just fine off the grid. There was no injury or malady the camp nurse couldn’t cure. The pine trees above our heads were so dense that rain couldn’t penetrate their needles and branches.
Summers now are spent in air conditioning and in front of bright screens. Steel and glass buildings dwarf us more than the trees ever could. Heat hits us from every direction, radiating off pavement and buildings. It’s a sticky heat that at the end of the day makes us peel off our clothes like exoskeletons and leave them in unfamiliar balls on the floor.
A kiss was all it took in those summers. A single kiss — or later, a secret make out session — was all we needed to feel validated, to love and be loved. That person was all we thought about before the kiss and all we thought about after. We remember where it happened, what song was playing, and what it tasted like.
Now, summer romances are less monumental. We meet people online or in bars and talk about what we do and where we live. The romance doesn’t culminate in the kiss, but rather begins with it. The attraction may hold meaning in the moment, but like a sunburn, it fades.
Is it possible to slow the passage of time? To get outside and disconnect? To make new friends and catch up with old ones and maybe even hold on to a moment for just long enough? If we remember what made us happy in those summers then maybe we can find those things now. Every year, we’ll have the chance to find them again.