With school coming to a close this year, summer vacation holds the promise of freedom, relaxation, and a hectic scheduling of minimum wage shifts. Now twenty, I think to myself: Self, summer vacation just isn’t what it used to be.
An astute observation, myself replies.
I’ve been working since before I turned 16, and though I could only work one day a week during the school year, once school let out, I could work a forty hour week. This, of course, was a sharp contrast to the one hundred sixty eight hour weeks I put in before; to Super Smash Bros, to watching t.v., sleeping, and hanging out with friends.
Summer vacation used to literally be a vacation for however many months the elementary/middle/high school allocated to it. There was no homework to do, no grades to worry about, no job to work, and no obligations to do anything.
…Then along came young adulthood and that hideous word: responsibility. Just typing the word makes me feel fatigued. If I had an unknown degenerative disease that killed you slowly by wearing you out I would call it responsibility. …Actually, that’s exactly what responsibility is…
Now summer vacation is less of a rest and relaxation period and more of a paradigm shift from the responsibility to your grades to the responsibility to make enough money to stay in school. Instead of being able to cool off for a couple months, my schedule becomes more tight and crowded. I’ll have less time for sleep and social interactions, and I’ll be spending considerably more time reaching my goal of becoming cynical and bitter by the age of fifty.
“But why must you do this Ryan?” you’re asking. Well, you see; there’s this funny thing called tuition, and the funny thing is that it’s actually not funny at all. Tuition is, in a lot of ways, like an ugly tattoo of your best friend on your ass. It seems like a good idea at the time, you’ll carry it for the rest of your life, you can get it removed if you have enough money, and you get it while in college.
In a desperate attempt to keep this ugly tattoo from getting too big, my peers and I will be working our summer away. Oh the inhumanity…
But wait, don’t get in your head that I’m being a Pessimist Patsy about Summer vacation. On the contrary, there is a great silver lining to summer vacation that ought not be overlooked. I get to spend some time with my family (which is always wonderful). In my case, being an out-of-state student, I get to see all my friends back in Maine (Mackenzie, Chris, Robyn, Jackie, Christin, Thomas, Ben, Liz… the list goes on and on). And I’ll get a chance to do some hiking, an activity that is somewhat lacking in opportunity when it comes to Newport News, VA.
But likely the most significant positive about summer vacation is that there are no grades! The dark cloud of grades hang over our heads all school year long, but when summer rolls around, that cloud dissipates for all too short a time. During that short time you can feel the essence of America again; freedom! Liberty! Hope! …and a minimum wage job.