I have a very conflicted relationship with being an adult. Some days, I am proud to have my own money and health insurance and live-in lover.
Other days, I’m driving home from work and Avril Lavigne’s “Here’s to Never Growing up” comes on the radio, and it takes everything I have to not pound on my steering wheel in a jealous rage, shouting “WTF, AVRIL? YOU AND I WERE YOUNG TOGETHER TEN YEARS AGO, BUT AT SOME POINT I HAD TO GET A FREAKING JOB AND START GOING TO BED AT A REASONABLE HOUR AND MAKING MY OWN DENTAL APPOINTMENTS. HOW THE HELL DID YOU GET AWAY WITH STAYING SO YOUNG AND CAREFREE?! TELL ME HOW OR I WILL CUT YOU, BITCH!”
(^That’s only like, two out of every ten days. Seven out of ten, tops.)
You know what was way better as a kid than it is as an adult?
Of course you do: Summer.
Summers as a kid were so long, remember? Every summer was basically ten years. The distance from the end of one school year to the start of another was the distance from Earth to Mars.
As an adult, summer feels like… what? Two weeks? You go to a wedding one weekend, then your mom visits one weekend and then BAM it’s winter/you’re depressed again.
I just found an old journal I totally forgot existed that I wrote in 7th grade for Mrs. Clapsaddle’s Unified Studies class. Each day she gave us a new writing prompt. On 5/23/00, she told us to write about summer. Reading my response just now made me understand why summers felt so much longer back then.
“The best part of summer is not always being scheduled and being able to go and do as you wish. I like waking up and not knowing where I’ll end up that day. Last summer I would get on my bike and visit my friends who live nearby. I would go places with them and we’d go swimming together. Sometimes I wouldn’t get back until late at night. So that’s what I like about summer—having no set schedule, making last-minute plans, and just going wherever the day takes me.”
Damn. That really got me thinking. When’s the last time I just went wherever the day took me? When’s the last time (with the exception of totaling our car on vacation last year and getting stranded in a random city for three days), that my day ended in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to predict with 95% accuracy when I woke up that morning?
I can think of ONE time that happened in the past four years. I remember because it was so rare. It was a lazy August day in 2009 right after I left my job, about a week before I moved out of Bloomington to start grad school. I was so exhausted by life at the time that I’d actually planned to spend that particular day doing nothing but reading and napping in bed. In anticipation, I had been referring to it as “Bed Day.”
I was in-between apartments that week, so I was staying in the bedroom of a friend who was out of town for the summer. Doug was staying there too, which I never mentioned to my friend because she had a weird thing about boys being in her room. On the morning of what was meant to be Bed Day, my friend randomly showed up with her dad to move some new stuff in. I heard her in the parking lot, panicked, and Doug and I slipped out of the apartment before she saw us. I told Doug we had to stay out all day until she left so that she’d never catch on. (In retrospect, I feel like I was weirdly paranoid about this and that it probably wouldn’t have been that big of a deal).
So Doug and I got in his car, and just went.
We climbed a waterfall. We sat by a stream. We found a playground with a really cool disc swing. We went to a dog park and watched all the dogs and their owners. We hiked up a dam. We stopped at a gas station for some Flipz. We explored art shops and ended up in a really cool little town for a dinner of ham and applesauce. It’s amazing how much you can fit into a day.
“Bed Day” was probably my favorite day of the past four years.
No wonder summers felt so much longer when every day was an unwritten, never-ending adventure.
So why haven’t I let myself have more days like that? Why have I accepted that we’re only entitled to such spontaneity when we’re young?
What do you miss about being a kid, and how do you prevent yourself from becoming an old, stuffy, adult?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.