The thing about graduating in December, mid-year and before many of one’s classmates, is that you miss more than your last semester of college. Yes, you miss a semester of homework and studying and stress and drama, you take six to seven less final exams, and you have a four-month head start on the job hunt. But, you forfeit your last Spring Break…ever, and you hear all about everyone else’s, before missing out on your first summer break in approximately 12 years. Finally landing a job in April was essentially epic for me, but I’ve painfully endured the constant “how’s you summer?” intro to every phone call with the fairly constant reminder that this annual break is no longer guaranteed.
When you’re from Florida summer’s are naturally longer and more recognizable as the tourist count quadruples and you can go to the beach everyday even when you work. The complaints about the heat are the big indication in NYC, but when you have a full-time job the season can pass you right by without a second glance. Fortunately, for me, I realized with the most recent “how’s your summer?” call that I have been treated to the season more than I’ve begrudgingly acknowledged. Although very different from my summer’s that have always been full of travel and relaxation and relishing in time with old friends, the past few months have surprised me with constant revivals of old friendships. Every transplanted New Yorker quickly realizes that everyone visits, more so than in Orlando even, and I have had such a reassuring influx of old friends, a complete sequence of blasts from the past, that I’m eternally grateful for.
My constant stream of guests who couldn’t anticipate the size of a studio until living in 5A’s makeshift living room began with my Little (from Pi Delta) and her boyfriend the week before I began work. I showed them the finds I’ve discovered and tried new places for the first time for a great combination of fun and reminiscing. Little can make me laugh in any situation even when I’m distracted by stress and complication, and her joy was so refreshing after a cold, anxious winter of job hunting and money scrounging. She was my lone friend for a time at Lipscomb and in that period of inseparability we developed a bond greater than time and distance and differences. A year passed between our goodbye at Lipscomb and our, “Ahh, you’re here!” A year of mutual moves, a new school for her, three new jobs for me, boys as always, and outright change. But there’s this unit of the closest friends God blessed me with at Lipscomb that Little became a part of, and although I can count them on one, maybe two, hands, the impact of their love and consistency–Little’s in paticular–will forever affect who I am. And that makes for reunions far more sweet than bitter and transcending beyond the changes.
My next visit was a surprise, last-minute appearance by Zaaannnee, one of the many friends from EHS I still talk to more than anyone I’ve met in the four years since. Zane presented the challenge of packing three giant military men into Nugget and I’s humble abode, but proximity simply accelerated the friendship forming, and the four of us amped the volume up noticeably. Although I was made fun of for two full days and pleaded with to walk slower, Zane and company made me laugh more than anyone here has been capable of, and I think I can be credited for inducing some laughter myself.
The highly anticipated, long awaited encore was a visit from my older [practically] sister, Paula. Paula’s visit came with bonuses: our mutual friend Leigh decided to join, neither had been to NYC before, and my old friend Ken arrived in town simultaneously. These three made for a combination of noise, attention, and plain humiliation. Ken and I have a habit of arguing in public, particularly in restaurants, Paula makes her presence known…everywhere, and Leigh is unintentionally hilarious. She loves sprinkles. Paula and I made a permanent impression on an unassuming bartender just in time before he moved home, struck up friendships on a rooftop where we laughed so hard we cried, and gave Mr. Argumentative a run for his money. I still don’t think Ken and Paula have decided whether they’re friends or not, but Leigh and I stayed entertained. Sure, that many people are bound to disagree whether about directions or plans or unidentified tension, but I can’t articulate the comfort of three familiar faces after almost a year on my own.
Most recently my pledge sister Katelyn celebrated her birthday in the big city followed by my first dance partner John returning for auditions and catching up on the last eight years! These two were hilarious in their own ways. Katelyn made an unexpected friend in plaid and John can still lift me over his head Dirty Dancing style.
To my blasts from the past, friends I’ll never lose thanks to texting, and holder on-er’s to memories of the best of times: thank you. Thanks for giving me a reason to take a day off work, letting me forget how much I have yet to figure out or accomplish, and making me laugh, so hard. I always knew coming here would require leaving you behind, but I’ll always be here, even if just for a couch in a studio. You gave me back my summer and all the memories, photos, and stories I thought I’d miss out on. I love you all and will continue to text you to come over knowing all too well you’re miles and states and plane tickets away. But when has that stopped us before?