Roll Credits: A Reflection on the Endless Summer

Brigid Ambuul, Category Editor

I’ll be the first to admit it: this article was meant to be much more cynical.

Banking on our universal reluctance to return to the backpack-choked hallways of high school, I made ready to write about the “Top 10 Reasons We Don’t Want To Go Back To School.” (You know, à la Buzzfeed.) But fate, it seems, had other plans.

In the very back of Caiman Hall, protected from the bustle of Gear Up Day by the walls of the soundbooth, junior Ryan Krippner looked up from editing a teachers’ lip sync video to ponder my inquiry– what makes you unwilling to return to school this year? His answer was almost poetic in its spontaneity.

“I don’t want the credits to roll in the summer teen film I’m in,” he said. Behind the somewhat tongue-in-cheek analogy of a cheesy teen flick, there was an earnesty in his words. A glint of nostalgia flickered in his eyes for another summer that had slipped through his fingers.

There was really something in his words, and in the words of all the others I’d interviewed. Some students bemoaned the inevitable loss of sleep caused by a return to school, others were loath to give up their free time. Another cited the stress that would be caused by tests. If any one pattern can be drawn through the roll of answers I received, it is a desire to return to the relaxing routine (or lack thereof) that we fall into once the proverbial cord of school is cut. For 3 months each year, we have a chance to fill our days with whatever we want, undictated by a school schedule.

Is there a way to do it right? To achieve the elusive “perfect summer?”

See, that depends on what you expect “perfect” to be. Some people want to check off goals, try new things, read more, discover new music, spend more time with family, work for that new car, fine-tune a talent, make new friendships and strengthen old ones. It’s a gargantuan task, to do it all in three months. They fly by.

Here’s what I think. We spend countless weeks during the school year dreaming about our summer plans. We build our imaginary agendas, we make plans with our friends to travel and start bands and book clubs and go to the beach every week. We tell ourselves that the school year confines us, and that we won’t be able to do any of it while we’re balancing our AP classes against our extra-curriculars.

And while we dream about the open stretch of summer in our future, we don’t even notice the days flashing right past our eyes. We forget about the after-school trips to Esco Gelato, the times when we lost ourselves in a particularly intense reader’s theater of “Julius Caesar,” the time we spent sitting in the dark during a Dance Concert with our friends wondering why we suddenly feel so melancholy (and then forgetting about it 15 minutes later when we’re laughing our heads off in an In-n-Out Booth).  

And if you’re like me, you only really stop to remember these things when it’s the night before the first day of Senior year. And, by then, most of these moments are gone.

And there aren’t many left.

This summer, I didn’t do everything I had hoped I would. I didn’t learn how to surf, I didn’t learn 10 new songs on the piano, I didn’t finish all of the books in my “to be read” pile.

But this summer, I did a million things I didn’t know I would do. I visited a place where the ocean was bluer than I thought possible. I got a real job. I learned one new song on the piano, and it’s awesome. I discovered new parts of town that I’d never seen. I read about van Gogh. I watched one episode of “Gilmore Girls.” I learned to appreciate my family even more. I bought paints and brushes and tapped into a new creative vent. I spent time with friends, new and old, who helped me learn a lot about myself.

Above all, as this summer drew to a close, I resolved that I would cast my mind back to long ago, when this summer was brand new, and I was filled with new vigor and purpose and hope. And I’d draw from that well of energy to make senior year the best one yet.

The start of school might mean waking up earlier, and returning to the world of tests, and losing free time. But it doesn’t means the credits have to roll. We can do so much right now. Yes, you. A freshman just walking through the doors, a sophomore who finally understands the rhythm of things, a junior anticipating a stressful year of tests, a senior looking ahead to the future. You can do it. Nothing’s stopping you.

And if the year draws to a close and you don’t think you’ve done it all, just remember that you’ll have done things you can’t even imagine right now.

It’s a brand new year. Let’s live it like it’s an endless summer teen movie.

But maybe don’t take that analogy too seriously.