Summer is my favorite season. Having lived my whole life in the Northeast, I know the warmth of this time of year is fleeting. Before I can blink an eye, I’ll be crunching leaves under my feet. Thoughts of sun dresses and beach days are what get me through the long, cold winter days. One would imagine, then, that I spend every spare moment of my summers soaking in the sun and taking advantage of all the wonderful things that New York City has to offer while the weather holds up. The reality is that I’m lucky if I make it to the beach three times. I rarely take in an outdoor movie or the beautiful parks within walking distance of my apartment. All of this leads to regret as a chill starts to creep into the air. I never feel like I fully enjoyed my summer. It always seems like I could have done more, seen more, relaxed more.
The fact that New York becomes a ghost town in August tells me that I’m not the only one who never got over the concept of summer vacation. For the majority of our young lives, school schedules dictate that rising temperatures mean the inverse for our responsibilities. This continues into adulthood for those lucky enough to have “summer Fridays” or bosses who abandon the office and allow their employees to do the same. Regardless of whether you have a job that slows in the summer, or picks up — like my restaurant job — our instincts push us toward relaxation. However, the reality is that as grown-ups, we can’t just take off summers like we did when we were kids. We have bills to pay, houses to clean and groceries to buy, among many, many other things. Since most of us aren’t rich enough to pay people to do these things for us — and if you are, you’re probably in the Hamptons or some other fabulous location — we end up spending our summers like any other season.
Every year, I vow to enjoy my summer more and end up failing. The problem, however, lies in my expectations. Living in a city means we want everything to be bigger, faster, better and when the mundane realities of our daily lives get in the way, we get frustrated. The thing is, most of us don’t have time to catch every outdoor movie, concert, and street fair, or make weekly trips to the beach. We can try to pack in as much as we can and force ourselves to have fun, but that usually results in lack of sleep, money and actual enjoyment. Instead, we need to make the most of what we get and relish it while we can. Running yourself ragged for three months is not going to make you happy, but sharing the occasional bottle of rose with friends on a patio might.
Cole and I recently made a trek to Brooklyn Crab in Red Hook. We sat on a roof deck, ate some delicious seafood and ended the meal with a round in their backyard mini golf course (which I won, by the way). Then we took a walk by the water, bought groceries at Fairway and headed home. It wasn’t a big fancy trip and it’s not something that we have the time or money to repeat every week. Yet it was a day — like a handful of others I’ve had this summer — that I’ll look back on and smile. Sure, the days I’ve spent at work and in my apartment writing or cleaning far outnumber the days spent enjoying the summer weather. Odds are, some version of that is going to be the reality for most of us for many years to come. We can let it get us down or accept it and open up more time to enjoy the moments we do get. If you don’t make as many beach trips as you’d like, hey, there’s always next year.