Summers Now Vs. Summers Then

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. TC Mark

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  • Mel

    Very nice. I am so glad I did not grow up in this generation. I am glad there were no computers, iWhatever’s and especially the Internet. I enjoy those things now, but I think it would have robbed me of the childhood you so eloquently described above.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexandra.lizardbreath Alexandra Thompson

    I am 19. That means that I became a teenager at the dawn of social networking and was a kid when the outdoors were our only real source of entertainment. However, I don’t think this article is saying that technology is what is causing our lack of ‘real summer’. If I didn’t need money for school and food and rent, I would probably love to go camping for three weeks, regardless of Facebook. But who would buy the tent? The camp food? How would we get there? People should stop comparing grown-up life against their childhood. More than half of the stuff we did as children are activities you wouldn’t even enjoy now. Nostalgia is a hell of a drug.

    • mel

      You’re 19 and you think there was a time in your life when your “only real source of entertainment was outdoors?” I think you better re-do the math on that one. I don’t think that this article was blaming technology either, I am. And I don’t think people “compare” grown-up life against their childhood, they reminisce. And to live the care-free happier life I did as a child, hell yes I would enjoy that now. I would welcome it with open arms. Nostalgia is a part of your life that recalls good times, what’s wrong with that?

  • mel

    That’s almost funny. Maybe I should clarify “outdoors”. Were you ever allowed to leave the house at 8am and your only restrictions was to be home by the time the street lights came home? No checking in. Nobody issuing Amber alerts for you. I doubt it.

  • Coolio

    This is a very eloquent and well-written piece; there’s no doubt about that. However, don’t try to lump me into your lifestyle. If you’re willing to unplug and enjoy yourself, it’ll happen. Don’t whine because you’re too self obsessed and materialistic to let go and embrace life.

    • agreed

      THIS.

  • mel

    sorry. “street lights came on. Ya got me a little rattled. : )

  • Erin

    I think the article is saying that as we grow up too, the summers change. Then, they were exactly as described above. I am 20 and enjoyed playing outdoors and going away for weeks of camping. Now that I am older I am focused on working, school (even in the summer), perserving long distance friendships, and missing those moments.

    • Mel

      Of course they change. When you grow up you have responsibilities. And there is no way you had the kind of summer described if you are only 20. Do some research on the 70’s.

      • Girl

        I am 22 and yes I have had the kind of summer described. I spent it at my cottage on camping on the lake. No air conditioning, no television, no internet, just a modest cabin and the grand outdoors. Just because some of these things exist now, and didn’t exist in the 70s does not mean that it is impossible for someone of my generation to have had a summer without them. I also grew up in a small town and yes I was allowed to leave the house at 8am and return when the street lights came on.

  • Erin

    Okay, well i still enjoyed the carefree summers I had as a kid. You ought to stop ragging on everyone who grew up in a different generation. I still enjoy hearing the stories my mom tells about her summers. Nothing can change the feelings we get when we share those nostalgic memoreis no matter when we grew up.

    • mel

      I am not “ragging”. I simply said that I was glad I did not grow up in your generation, as I am sure you are glad you did not grow up in mine.

      • J

        Condescending, bitter 50-year-old, perhaps? No one is asking for your input, and we certainly don’t need to research the 70’s to figure out whether or not you really had it “better of”. Who are you to dictate what a true summer is, anyway?

      • mel

        What is condescending and bitter about being glad that you were not brought up with all of the technology that this and all future generations are brought up with? I’m not bitter at all, quite the opposite, I’m happy about it. No one is asking for anyone’s input, but there’s a boat load of it here isn’t there? I think the writer would be a bit disappointed if it got no comments at all, its a blog, thats what you do. I will retract my 70’s comment. That was uncalled for. God knows the 70’s had its problems too. We made you guys!! (So, so sorry. I am totally joking). I think this generation is wonderful. They are smart and driven and I have no doubt they will make a generation even more awesome then they are.

      • J

        “Of course they change. When you grow up you have responsibilities. And there is no way you had the kind of summer described if you are only 20.” That sure sounds a bit condescending. Like I said, who are you to tell us what kind of summer we had?
        No one “chooses” to be born the year they are, and yet you sound as if you’re placing this “technology” burden upon those born in the 90’s. Let people post their comments happily reminiscing their own summers as children instead of putting YOUR opinionated spiel about how much happier you were. We got that the first time around.

      • mel

        You got it J. Sorry if I offended anyone. That was not my intention.

      • mel

        One last thing. I never said I was “happier” my childhood sucked. But I thought the topic was environmental not personal. I don’t need to research the 90’s and “Who am I to say” I raised a child in the 90’s. I think that gives me a little perspective. Ok, I’m done.

  • http://exponentialage.blogspot.com Rajat Gaur

    Really….a true story…. I miss those old golden days…..

    You can imagine how fast life has changed…..I’m just 18 am I’m saying “I miss those old golden days…..”

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  • JL

    You know what, guys? Mel’s right. Because we all know that people from different generations, different decades, can’t have similar feelings and experiences from their childhoods. Because we all know that as soon as technology like televisions and the Internet and video games became widespread, no one in our generation ever, ever went to the park or went camping or played hide and seek with their neighbors or explored or did things outdoors.

    In all seriousness, Mel, maybe you do some research on the 90s before you tell us that there’s no mathematically possible way for us to have experienced what was described in this article. Figure out what it was like to grow up then. Sure, we had TVs and Game Boys and AOL, but we had friends and swings and summertime too.

    What Max was able to do, and what you, Mel, are too bitter to see, is write about aspects of childhood summertime that everyone, no matter how old they are, can relate to. Sunsets, grass, losing track of time, kisses and romance, camp, and fireflies. Are any of those things gone now?

    • http://jesssicaro.wordpress.com jesssicaro

      God. This, a thousand times, yes.

    • mel

      No, they are all still here. It just seems like they are a lot more monitored and scrutinized. My child grew up in the 90’s and there is no way in hell I would have let her do the things that I was allowed to do or have the freedom that I had as a child. The world is a different place and I think technology has contributed to the good and the bad. Kissess and romance? Having first hand experience at today’s teens as far as that goes, its more like sex and move on.

      • JL

        So you only have yourself to blame for the “monitoring and scrutinizing”. Your child probably had a more sheltered childhood than some other people her age, and you had your reasons for monitoring her. That’s fine. Just don’t assume that everyone is subject to your particular parenting choices. And I’m sure your child also enjoyed some of the same things you were able to.

        Oh…right. I forgot. People growing up in the 70s never had sex and moved on. And all the teens after that? Raging sluts, I tell you! Hit it and quit it! Seriously, I call bullshit on your “firsthand experience”; I think I know quite a few more members of my generation than you do. Get the caricature (or isolated experience of the 90s children YOU knew) out of your head. I remember quite a few shy kisses, shy romances building up all summer and either becoming something, or nothing at all and fading with the summer.

        My point is just that you should lay off all the people who are saying, “I’m 19 and I can relate to this.” Yeah it sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. The bliss of carefree childhood, especially on hindsight, is pretty universal.

      • mel

        I only have myself to blame? I think society had a lot more to do with it then I did. They were not my “parenting choices” they were my parenting responsibilities to keep my child safe. And guess what, it wasn’t good enough. As hard as I tried, I still could not keep her safe from the sick weirdo’s that are out there and I am not saying that they just popped up in the 90’s out of no where, I know they have been around forever, my whole point was that WHY were we allowed to run wild in the 70’s and were for the most part safe? You can’t possibly think that parenting is the same now as it was in the 70’s. You can call “bullshit” on my first hand experience all you want. You ARE your generation, I watched it. I listened to it. I was the one you came to when your friends bullied you, called you names and made you feel like a leper. Living it and watching it and trying to make it better hardly qualifies as bullshit.

      • J

        “That’s almost funny. Maybe I should clarify “outdoors”. Were you ever allowed to leave the house at 8am and your only restrictions was to be home by the time the street lights came home? No checking in. Nobody issuing Amber alerts for you. I doubt it.”
        I grew up in the 90’s and played outside until the street lights came on. My parents never had to worry that something would go wrong; in fact, the chances of me getting hit by a car from chasing a ball were higher than me getting abducted.
        And I’m sure you’re aware of the term “Rock ‘n Roll”. It was called that for a reason, and I’m positive you’d know because it was termed even before the 70’s. You’re going into another dimension as far as teenagers are concerned in this discussion.

      • mel

        Another aspect of all of this is where you grew up. I am sure people who grew up in the country did not have to worry as much as those who grew up in the city. I am coming from a purely city aspect. I know nothing about the country.

      • J

        “Another aspect of all of this is where you grew up.”
        Mel, that is exactly the point. You know absolutely nothing about anybody here and their environment while growing up.

        Just as you mentioned in a previous comment: “As hard as I tried, I still could not keep her safe from the sick weirdo’s that are out there and I am not saying that they just popped up in the 90′s out of no where, I know they have been around forever, my whole point was that WHY were we allowed to run wild in the 70′s and were for the most part safe? You can’t possibly think that parenting is the same now as it was in the 70′s.”
        The environment in which you and your child grew up may be completely different than the rest of us, as well as your own childhood from the 70’s. You may have some knowledge of our generation (key word), but we are not DEFINED by our generation (although you may beg to differ).

        Take your blinders off and just accept this article as something that can conjure up images from the past that made us happy. Remember, it’s our OWN childhood we’re reflecting, not yours or your child.

      • mel

        Point taken. I surrender : )

      • J

        “I don’t need to research the 90′s and “Who am I to say” I raised a child in the 90′s. I think that gives me a little perspective. Ok, I’m done.”
        I grew up in the 90’s. I think that gives me a little perspective.

  • Dottedlinedolores

    Reading the (largely asinine) comments on this piece made me sad. But, anyway…

    Max, I loved this. So, so much. I know that people often make the comment that whatever the post of the hour is is their “favorite TC article ever,” so it might ring hollow, but this is truly one of the best things I’ve read on here. Honestly.

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  • http://mirthfulme.wordpress.com mirthfulme

    Very well sad

  • http://JackofAllTradez.wordpress.com williamthehalo

    Reblogged this on JackofAllTrades.

  • http://JackofAllTradez.wordpress.com williamthehalo

    I really have to agree with this. My summer’s as a child feel much longer the mine now.

  • Abigail

    “The romance doesn’t culminate in the kiss, but rather begins with it.” Yes!

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