Summer don’t mean nuthin’ to me now
It’s May. Sweet! All I’ve got to do is get through finals, and then it’s easy living for about three months. Maybe I’ll take a couple summer courses – the easy kind that I can skip through. Or maybe I won’t even bother and just live off my scholarship dough as I play video games and read comics in the glorious comfort of air conditioning.
Oh, wait, I graduated one year ago this week.
Huh. I guess I’ll just be working some more, then. Come to think of it, the only difference between summer and winter will be the temperature.
Don’t get me wrong, I was more than ready to graduate last spring. I loathed sitting through lectures, loathed the pointless “core classes” every student had to take, but that, due to our decaying education system, merely regurgitated lessons one should have learned in high school. Above all, I hated the university machine, the bureaucratic monstrosity that prioritized gaining alumni dollars through good PR over intellectual integrity or the wants and needs of current students.
Good thing I got out of there and entered the work force, eh?
I know being wistful for summers past is a very privileged form of angst. My fiancée, for example, worked a part-time job every summer of both high school and college. To be fair, I tried to get a job in high school, and I did have one right before heading to college. In fact, I usually had a job of some kind every summer, be it a work-study or running the college paper.
I guess it isn’t the sudden free time I’m missing, then. It’s the transition. From age 6 to 22, my life was divided into neat chunks of semesters and seasonal breaks. An A-B-A-C rhyme scheme, for you English majors. No more. Now my life is expected to be more like a Thomas Pynchon novel – long, interminable blocks of prose that stop and start at random and usually only when you don’t want them to.
Hmm. Maybe a Whitman poem would be a better metaphor. Whatever… I studied art.
My folks dealt with this a lot sooner. Married with child and working at 19, their lives have been following roughly the same beat for three decades, with aforementioned traumatic shifts in tone every so often. Layoffs. Firings. Divorces. Remarrying. An empty nest. For most Americans, this is the way things go. The college-educated tend to forget they aren’t the norm – in 2005 USA Today reported than only 29 percent of Americans had that pricey piece of parchment. Most of you have been working full time since you were 18, or younger with the hellacious drop-out rate in our high schools.
So in the scheme of things, I’m just whining. I delayed it this long. I’m better off than most people, and I’ll get a bit of vacation later this year. It won’t be three months of teenaged summer, to be sure, but it’ll be quality over quantity.
It’ll be a honeymoon, actually. And that’s worth working for.