At this point in my life, I thought I’d be somewhere much different then I am now. If you would have asked me at this time last year if I planned on still living at home now, I would have given you a hard no. Heck, I didn’t plan on moving home when I graduated college. Obviously, things don’t always go as planned. When I moved home last May after graduation, I didn’t know what I wanted from life. I can’t say I know that more now but something has changed.
Last summer, I was a bit of a lost soul. Maybe I was going the wrong way down a one way street or just looking at things through a warped lens. Needless to say, something was not sitting right with me. Living in my hometown was not ideal for me. Working a part time job after completing a college degree was not ideal for me. I battled with this for a long time. What had I lost that lead me to this state of mind? A question haunting me on a daily basis. I was lacking the inability to see where I was, where I am, is okay. I enjoyed last summer, but I enjoyed this one much more. Once I realized where I am is okay, I was much happier.
Fast forward to now, a year later, and happy is just what I am. I love my job. Will I be a waitress for the rest of my life? No, but for now I would not trade it for much. I also got the privilege of living with my family. Not many 23 year olds revel in living with their parents. Granted, there are many moments I wished I lived alone. Living with them and my older brother isn’t something I’ll get to do forever, I have to appreciate it while I can.
Last summer, all I craved was to decompress from the rush of college. That took a little longer than expected. Now, I am at a spot where I truly feel I can begin to decide what I want to do for the rest of my life. This past summer gave me time to reflect on that. A lot of my days were spent at the pool. A place where the lifeguards joked about putting a reserved sign on my favorite seat. A place to finish a book in a day or crush on the cute (read hot) lifeguard I hadn’t seen since high school. I called it my happy place. With a pink donut float, and Ray-Bans in hand, I would ‘waste’ my days in the sun. Trust me, I have quite the tan to prove it. Yet, I still managed to work about 40 hours a week. For those 4o hours spent working, I matched that time at the pool as well.
I also made a few trips to Pittsburgh to visit my best friend. We celebrated her 21st birthday and went to a concert or two. The city that never sleeps also got a three day visit from us. For the first time, I drove in NYC. I stepped out of my comfort zone and stayed in an Airbnb in Brooklyn. I started volunteering at our local theater with their public relations committee. An opportunity to put to use one of my two college degrees. It’s something that helps the community and myself simultaneously. Of course, I wrote for this blog. I became more open and honest with a few posts and felt so freely brave because of it. Everything that was on my summer to do list didn’t get a shiny new check mark next to it. But, I don’t care. This summer still gave me so much.
Summer has always been my favorite season. I doubt that will ever change. Between my tan skin, denim shorts, and care free attitude resides a hopeful 23 year old. Along the way I even got to float on a giant flamingo raft. That was possibly the highlight of my summer. As I look forward to fall, I look back on the summer of ’16 and smile. This may not have been the most monumental summer of my life but I feel connected to it in a special way. Happy is a simple word and a simple emotion. It is also the only adjective I think of when I think of Summer ’16. Isn’t that what we all want in life, to be happy? I don’t have everything figured out, but I am not unhappy.
This past Monday, was the last day the pool was open for the summer. Undoubtedly I was there from open to close. While sitting there, I looked at my mom and asked, “Will you take my picture?” For this last day, my polaroid camera escorted me to the pool. After some instruction my mom snapped a shot. I simply said, “I wanted to document how I spent the majority of my summer.” Captured via polaroid was me, in my favorite blue swimsuit, polo cap, and Ray-Bans, book in hand, smiling from ear to ear.
That picture now hangs in my room as a daily reminder to be happy.