Two years ago, I experienced the most amazing summer.
I had one exam I had to retake, sometime in mid August. Which, granted, wasn’t exactly fun. And I had to write my dissertation for my Masters degree in Corporate Communication. Which, granted, wasn’t exactly fun either. But somehow, that summer was absolutely incredible. That summer was one of the best I’ve ever experienced. It was a glorious time at home, still swaddled in the comfort of everything I’ve always known, whilst standing at the precipice of a staggering adventure.
It was the summer of ’13. The days were long and swelteringly hot in the small little town I grew up in. My favourite place to be was in the garden of my parental home. Our garden has always been large and rich with flowers growing everywhere. And there’s a big oak tree, which has been there even before I was born. I’ve seen it grow to a majestic piece of marvellous nature over the years, standing at the edge of our garden, overlooking the empty fields in the distance. The grass is always full of weeds, moss and daisies, making it exquisitely soft and gracefully delicate at the same time. I like daisies the most. No matter what you do, they will grow wherever they like – uncompromising on the simply beauty of being. And this summer, oh let me tell you, the weather was just perfect. The sun would burn hot during the day, whereas the night skies often brought the most refreshing rain. The garden stayed a lush green all summer long – have you ever smelled anything better than the smell of summer rain? It was a glorious time. Life was all nonchalance and comfortable luxury. And happiness seemed to last forever.
Not in the least because of the company I was in. I was home. Home with my parents, who know me well and who’ve grown accustomed to my bouts of loving craziness. My sister was staying with us for a few weeks after having spent many years abroad – it was a great time to reconnect and remember old times, like when we’d sing the theme song of “Gilmore Girls” together whenever it was on TV. And especially when my brother would come by for dinner sometimes, we’d all be reunited again. It wasn’t exactly like my childhood – somehow it was even better. And I’d play Scrabble with my dad, read books, invite friends over… In the evening, I’d reach for my laptop and slowly but surely write my dissertation – barely making a dent in an otherwise careless existence.
It was almost like a perfect beginning to a stunning 1920s novel – all gaiety and naivety. Because of course, I knew it wouldn’t last. In fact, I was acutely aware that it was going to be the last summer I would ever spend at home. My year at Vlerick Business School was awaiting me, which I knew would bring job opportunities in the summer ahead. Which would mean starting work, most likely moving, becoming an adult and all that jazz. (Little did I know I would end up in London, UK?!) So I enjoyed every single minute of it. And I made sure I would always remember the indescribable ecstasy I felt during that summer of ’13…
This summer is so far removed from that one. Instead of two months of vacation, I have 2 weeks. Instead of writing papers for a degree, I now work for a living. Instead of letting casual euphoria take over, I count the days I must return to real life. Instead of feeling like the world was just waiting at my doorstep, I increasingly find you have to cross the threshold and discover it for yourself. While I enjoy making my own way and figuring things out as I go along, there was something so lavish about that feeling I experienced during that summer in ’13. My responsibilities were minimal, at best. My only “job” was to fill my days with blissful happiness, to enjoy spending time with my delightful family and friends, to relish life in a beautiful garden paradise. And even knowing it would end, even knowing things would change soon, I was caught up in the sheer extravagance of those two months.
It was the ultimate summer feeling.
Today, I find myself longing to go back. Like Gatsby before me, I was trying to recreate a time long ago, trying to recapture what I lost. But as naive as I was then, I’m less so now. I now know that you can never go back, not really. We’re not meant to. And that’s okay. People grow, they move on, they change, they – hopefully – get to be even better versions of themselves. It’s only taken me a mere week back home to realise that I won’t be recovering those swelteringly hot summer days of ’13. Instead, I’ll experience new days. And you know what? That’s a good thing. Because two years ago, I would have never even dreamed of living in London. So waking up to a new day… Who knows where I’ll go next?
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald,