You've reached the end of another school year, possibly your last. I didn't mean for that to sound ominous. I just mean, perhaps you've just graduated.
This is a consequential time in your young life, that thrilling moment when the structure and responsibilities of school fall away and you find yourself face to face with the great wide open. But then, it's also summer, when warm weather, long daylight hours, and nightly baseball give everything a comforting nostalgic aroma.
I admit, I get all kinds of sentimental about this time of year. I have warm fuzzy memories that magically transport me to summers past.
If I close my eyes, I can still smell the grass and diesel as my father mows the lawn out front, wearing a sporty terry-cloth headband and occasionally swearing at the mower.
If I close my eyes, I can still taste the warm $12 toilet-water beer as I weave my way back to my seat, waiting for a band 15 years past its prime to come out on stage and inflict long-term damage to my eardrums.
If I close my eyes, I can still feel the mosquitos gnawing at the back of my neck while I loiter at a beach bar, internalizing my sarcasm as a guy in cargo shorts stands at a microphone with a stupid looking guitar making Jimmy Buffet songs sound even worse.
And then, I open my eyes, and realize I'm on my way to work. And I'm driving. I swerve quickly back into my lane. That was really dangerous. I'm not going to do that again.
Still, it was worth it. Adventure and impulse are what summer is all about.
If the school year is a time for memorizing, summer is a time for making memories. If your classes are meant to make you think, summer is meant to make you feel. If each semester is a journey toward some point of reflection, summer is the destination.
And you've arrived. Welcome.
Steal My Sunshine
If you've recently graduated, you probably have a lot on your mind. Here's author Charles Sykes to reinforce that crushing sense of impending reality:
“Life is not divided into semesters and you don't get summers off.”
Thanks a padload, dude.
I mean, he's not wrong. If you have recently graduated, this is your last real summer. Summer's still cool when you're older. You just miss, like, 60% of it. There's a playground just out front of my house. There are children playing tag, the sun poking gently through the trees, cars passing by with open windows, blasting a medley of salsa, hip hop, classic rock and local radio ads plugging the big used auto sale this sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!
It all seems glorious, but I'm in here, working.
So Charles Sykes isn't wrong, he's just a drag. This is your last summer of screwing around like a kid, wasting daylight, spending your nights like you've got nowhere to be in the morning, and making new memories that it will some day please you to recall. So if I could offer you some advice, as a multi-thousandaire well-accomplished the in field of making summer memories, don't blow this one entrenched in preparation for the real world.
The Tide Is High
Suffice it to say, no matter what you do—from polishing your resume, to taking on an internship, to joining the Peace Corps—you won't magically be prepared for the real world in September. Only experience, error, accountability, achievement, failure, and age can prepare you for the real world. which is to say that you can't do it over a single summer. It takes years. And even then, your grasp is always tenuous at best.
I'm not saying you shouldn't polish your resume, take on an internship, or join the Peace Corps. All are constructive ways to use your time. But please, for your current and future self, don't use all of your time this way. Summer has a capacity for enchantment that may be unmatched by any other season. I mean, fireflies? Are you serious? Little fluttering critters that fill the early evening with tenderly flitting Christmas lights? That's like, crazy enchanting.
The point is, summer is your time. And considering, realistically speaking, how much of your time you'll be selling to a full-time employer soon, take as much of this time to yourself as you can. Make your preparations for the year ahead. Contemplate your plan of attack. But do it some place warm, some place stimulating, maybe even some place you've never been. If you have the time or the means, get as far away from the real world as you can, just for a minute. I promise, it will be there when you get back.
All Summer Long
As for TBS Magazine, we aren't going anywhere. (Like I said, some of us have to work over the summer). Stick with us as the mercury begins to sizzle, and we'll do everything we can to help prepare you for next year without constantly reminding you of all the intensity coming your way.
Whether you're on the beach, at a barbecue, or winding down a dirt road toward a new discovery, we'll be with you. Sorry if that sounded creepy. I just mean, you can access us anywhere on your computer or mobile device.
The 2016-2017 school year marks the second year of publication for TBS Magazine. We are thrilled to report that monthly readership grew by 33% over the course of the fall and spring semesters. Thank you for making us a part of your life. We are grateful for your readership, your engagement and your feedback.
On that note, if there's anything you'd like to see us cover in the year ahead, let us know. What stories matter to you? Tell us what we can do to keep you coming back for more. If you have a really great idea, we may even pretend it was our great idea and produce a whole series based on your premise. Just imagine the street cred you'll get.
And finally, before you depart, here's a mixtape of classic summer songs, because that's what you give to a good friend who's heading somewhere awesome. Have a memorable summer.
- This is a living document, like the U.S. Constitution, or those amazing Choose Your Own Adventure books. What I mean to say is, this mix is subject to constant change. I reserve the right to add songs to this list all summer long. Keep checking back as this playlist grows large and unwieldy.
- Also, I'm definitely already working on a piece dedicated to the 25 Best Summer Songs of All Time, which will provide rationale for many of the songs included in the playlist hereafter. I look forward to completing, publishing and fielding your hostile comments.
- Finally, this playlist is presented in Spotify format. You don't have to pay for Spotify to listen. You'll just have to sit through their advertisements. That said, maybe pay for Spotify. Totally worth it.