I’m driving fast with the windows down and my hair in my face and I’m trying not to think.
I can feel it, behind me, the sadness and anxiety chasing after me like a wild, wicked creature. My breath is shallow and quick and my eyes are locked ahead as I do all that I can to outrun it, pushing down harder and harder on the gas, urging my car onward. But speed is useless, for in the end what brings back the pain is the simple chorus of a new song that’s blaring on the radio:
If that sun would’ve just
Hung up in that sky
Just a little bit yeah
Just a little bit longer
If those blue water waves
Could’ve stayed at our feet on the beach
‘Stead of going out with the tide
If that wind was a friend
It’d still be blowing in
Like a warm southern whisper on her
She might have stayed forever
And never ever left these arms
If only I
Had a little more summertime
It’s a love song, yes, but for me it rang as a love song for summer. This summer. Because right now I’m in the car on my way home from one of my last days of work, at a job I’ve loved more than any other. And I’ve just said goodbye to one coworker and shared one of my last nights with the others. And when that song came on and I listened to the words “If only I had a little more summertime,” I thought, what could be more true? I wish I had just a little more summertime. Just a little more…I don’t want it to end, not yet!
Last year, I was a freshman in college, and it was, to say the least, an incredibly unhappy year. When I picture it in my mind, every memory is a foggy gray color, and I remember feeling sad and anxious in nearly every one. Of course there were many good things, but I was unable to rise from my sadness enough to enjoy them. I remember long, lonely days punctured by longing and separation and anxiety. I remember the eternal agony of unbelonging—not belonging in my major, among peers, and in my classes. I remember sitting in my empty dorm room on weekend nights, hearing loud groups of friends going out and having the time of their lives, while I was there alone, in my ugly pajamas, trying to drown out their laughter with television or books or sometimes even alcohol. I remember the pain of so many friends lost, boys lost, and the longing accompanied by my one true friend dating someone else. In short, when I think of last year, I see a long block of depression and I feel one thing: relief that it is over.
Because as soon as I got home and started this new job and dated a new guy, everything turned around! This summer has been a sparkling jewel in a sea of stormy gray. Though it was rough in the beginning, I actually managed to make a lot of friends at work. I’m not scared to go there; I look forward to it. I am accepted there. I don’t feel judged, and I don’t feel all that different. It’s been the most amazing experience.
And I had/have a boyfriend, too. We’ve gone through our fair share of stress, but altogether we’ve had a very happy relationship. I am more open with him than I was with any other man. I feel confident when I’m with him, and I am able to love him in a way I never knew before…a way that is openly caring and affectionate. Though our relationship was borne in a time of dependency and darkness—he was the one I went to in all those very dark times last year, because he was always, unfailingly, there to listen—it has blossomed into something real.
Yet now I’m in this car and Jason (Aldean)’s voice is loudly reminding me that this is going to end. Summer won’t last forever. These people I see every day, talk to every day, and spend so much time with, will no longer be there. They will go on without me, and I’ll be off on my own again, back in that sea. I don’t know that things will last with my boyfriend. As much as I truly do love him, in my gut I have always felt that our relationship will not last—we are not compatible enough beyond the surface. But I lack the strength to break up with him primarily because I can’t face that uncertain sea by myself. (Selfish, yes, I don’t deny it.) But I am just too scared that I will fall back into the old state of mind and drown, pulled down by the anxiety that pursues me so passionately.
Like in the song, I can’t help but think that if I just had a little bit longer, maybe I could make it all last forever.
But I have to face reality. I am leaving. I am jumping back into the grind of college, and I would be a fool not to take advantage of it. Now that I’ve changed my major to something I really believe in, and will be studying things I care about, I can start to see it as the opportunity that it is, rather than a prison. I can begin to feel grateful again, to my parents and to those few friends that I did make.
My goal this year is to change how I react to things. I remember thinking, in one of those dreadfully sad times, “Everything makes me sad.” I sobbed this to myself—pitifully, but truthfully. Everything did make me sad. The thought of staying in school saddened me, but the thought of leaving was even worse. All I could see was loss, loss, loss. Losing friends, chances missed, one of the “best years of my life” wasted…they circled viciously around my head. But finally, once I got out of there and into the warmth of summer, I realized that it’s not normal to feel that way. Most people are not saddened by everything. I’ve got to change that.
I need to see things from the opposite perspective. Meeting new people shouldn’t be terrifying; it should be an exciting opportunity! A new year of school shouldn’t mean losing last year’s progress, it should mean getting a fresh but already substantial start. Leaving this job doesn’t have to be a tragedy; I can and will return next summer and on breaks, and that will be fun, not devastating.
In all, a little more summertime would mean a little less wintertime, but if I do my job right wintertime will be just as great. I’ve just got to work at it, and stop viewing life through that negative lens. Somehow, it will be okay, but it’s up to me, not the world.