A summer memoir
Twenty-seven years ago I was getting ready to head back to Provo, Utah for my first summer term experience. It was a great summer. I don’t know what Provo is like in the summer now, but back then the town emptied out when most students headed home. Campus was quieter and more casual, tree shaded streets cool and empty. One of my good friends came to school as well and we found a cheap apartment and furnished it with brick & wood shelf bookcases for all our many books (both of us studying that oh-so-useful subject “literature”). We took long walks in the early evenings where we cemented our friendship with our wide ranging conversations. For the first time I had a car, which was revolutionary … we took a couple of road trips to such far away places as Monroe, Manti, and Salt Lake City. It seems pretty tame, but my BYU experience to this point had been conducted strictly within walking distance of the campus with a bus trip to the mall an adventurous rarity.
My experience that summer encapsulates all that I love about Summer – warm weather, long days, a slower pace, a relaxed schedule – freedom to follow whims and daydream a little. This was also my last summer as a single person. The summer of 1991 was the summer I met Tom. It was the crowning miracle of that lovely little season.
The months that followed were the opposite of everything I love about summer. I was finishing my degree – that last sprint to reach the finish line, filled with papers, papers, and more papers, along with heavy reading and preparation for those dreaded final exit oral exams. I was planning a wedding (!) although I tried to push much of that work onto my mother (which I’m sure she was just thrilled to do, having her own life to manage!) I was working and trying to spend as much time as I could with this fascinating person I was marrying. Oh, and it was cold, which I tolerate, but never love.
It’s weird to be back in the single world. I quite liked being married, despite all the ups and downs. I traded a lot of freedom for marriage and children, but there were great rewards too. There’s freedom in having someone know about all that stuff you mostly keep private – especially when they love you anyway and they “get” that stuff and suddenly you aren’t alone with it all the time. There’s freedom in knowing that you “have someone” – a partner at every event, someone to talk to when everyone else is busy, someone to share in the successes yes – but more importantly in the failures in life.
Now I have back the freedom of only consulting myself for much of my free time. I can clean or not clean, go to bed when I want, eat what I want. It’s like the emotional equivalent of summer – but I find myself missing the busyness of fall, the hope of spring, even the cold of winter. I’m trying to appreciate the positives, though I think maybe singleness is only encouraging me in my tendencies to be selfish! Still there is a part of me that whispers, “remember that magical summer? there’s still a bit of it hanging around if you look hard enough!”