POSTCARD: How Summer Ought To Be

NEW YORK, NY—When I was five, I went with my family down to North Carolina to hang out with my grandparents and cousins. We went to the pool, and I learned how to do a flip off of the higher of the two diving boards. We drove to the mall to watch PG rated movies–more likely G rated. We cooked dinner; I have memories of green beans. Garden hoses and sprinklers and slides were involved in most afternoons.

Somewhere between now and then, the expectation for how I spend my summers has changed dramatically. The last few weeks of school are filled with the loaded question, “So what are you doing this summer?” or as some phrase it, “Where are you going to be this summer?”—the implication being that you will either find yourself in some far away land or at a company whose name and office real estate qualify it to be a “where.” The question is a great one for those who have exciting plans; it is an awkward one for whom plans have not yet panned out. But the expectation is that the askee and asker will be doing something, something of note, something that can be summarized in fewer than 10 words.

My answer circa May: “Traveling through Greece writing for a travel guide.” Seven words. My answer now that my glorious stint in Greece has ended: “Hanging out at home.” Four words. I think if those four words had been the ones I had uttered on campus, I would have gotten more than a few surprised looks. But it has been glorious.

For the past week, I have been blissfully without obligation. I have had time to bake my younger sister’s birthday cake, have lunch with my mom mid-work day, and travel to Westchester to see friends from high school. I have walked around Central Park, sat in the sun and read, and then slipped into a mid-afternoon nap before going for a run in the evening. I have not set an alarm in a week. I’ve been reading the newspaper–the hard copy that is delivered to my apartment–over breakfast. In a few days I am going down to North Carolina with my mom to, yes, see my cousins and grandparents there.

I'm not going to launch into a tirade against internships or travel. I have done both and know both to be fascinating and beneficial and fun, for all the obvious and innumerable reasons. But I do think the simple pleasures of summer—watermelon and time with grandparents, and perhaps most pronouncedly, lounge time—are underrated, or more likely, sacrificed. I will not proclaim this to be a Harvard problem, or a generational trend, or anything of the sort. I will simply say that I'm quite glad to have had my time in Greece, and now I am content to eat watermelon. If you have a second, the Kool-Aid is in the fridge.

Elyssa A.L. Spitzer ’12, a Crimson news writer and blog executive, is a social studies concentrator in Currier House