Well it’s getting to be that time of year, at least for college students. Finals are starting, semesters are wrapping up and new internships are beginning. Another semester has passed and it feels like tomorrow will be the start of yet another school year. The only thing that separates us from the end and the beginning is summer vacation, which doesn’t feel like a vacation anymore, at least to me. I guess I’m going to have to find a new box to put all my old notes and notebooks in. I do this every year and I always tell myself not to throw anything away, “you might need it for another paper you might write.” But not once have I felt the urge to open up those boxes and go through them. They just sit in my room now, gathering time, sagging like old men playing checkers.
If you can’t tell, I get a little mopey when the school year ends, which is strange because that wasn’t always the case. I was like every other kid at one point, I hated being in school and I loved being on summer vacation. I liked playing baseball and every summer my parents sent me to a sports camp in Pittsfield, Mass. where I could play baseball and golf as much as I wanted. But I also loved summer vacation because I could read any and all the books I wanted. I didn’t get to do that as much in school because I had to read the books they wanted us to read and I’ve never been good at reading multiple books at once. It’s a skill that I’ve only recently picked up since I started college, mostly out of necessity. Many of my classes demand that I be reading constantly. This means that I sometimes have five or six books going at once. I still find it hard to keep track of all of them sometimes.
But as a kid I was even worse at it. I would pick up a book then get bored, start reading another one, then try to read both at the same time, and then give up and go over to a friend’s house. Summer, however, was my reading time. I didn’t have any other school work to do and I wasn’t near any T.V., so I read all the time. And I didn’t just read the summer reading lists that my school gave out. I tackled books that no ten year old has any business reading. One summer I read a Bukowski novel, I think it was Factotum, and I actually started talking like Henry Chinaski, the main character. That got me in more than a little trouble. Summers as a kid were when I really developed a love of books and it was in school I developed a love of literature, high school specifically.
Now it seems like summer is just a few months where it gets unbearably hot, then gets cold again. For me, ending a semester is not like crossing a finish line where I get to put my feet up for a few weeks and relax without any responsibilities. It’s a bitter-sweet moment, really. Yes I feel relief that I survived another four months of grueling work but its not the same kind of excitement that I felt as a kid. Maybe it’s because I know that one more semester finished is one more semester to graduating. Then what? Grad school? Job? Whenever adults tell you, “college is awesome,” I feel like they intentionally fail to mention the part of college that causes feelings of existential anguish and self-doubt.
Not that there isn’t any positive side to summer vacation these days. I don’t want to give you the impression that I plan on sitting on the couch all summer moping about how the real world is just over the next hill. I plan on playing golf and having a lot of cookouts. Still I’ve enjoyed this semester a great deal, especially working at CambridgeEditors. So I’m not as crazy about saying goodbye to it as one might expect.