It’s mid-April in New Haven and spring is still biding her time in the powder room, gossiping with the gals. She’s a siren, that spring, a practiced vixen in an age-old game. She started flirting with us early March, coyly smiling when we passed her on Old Campus, and blowing us kisses after lunch. After spring break, when we all returned from various heavenly lands, she started showing some leg to keep us interested. Then last week she got drunk and danced with other men, just to show us what we were missing: It was 73 degrees in North Carolina and 82 from Oklahoma to Idaho.
Most of us fell for her philandering games, the poor fools we are. Even last Saturday, when we should have been duly aware of her coquettish ways, we broke out the sneakers, banished the scarf, and brought our books outside. Then, oh spring, that wanton tramp! She snuck away again that same afternoon, concealing her bright face behind her virginal, gray veil, just so we’d freeze our naked toes off heading home, our unread pages and thwarted hopes in tow.
While I pine away in my heated bedroom waiting for the ever-capricious spring to return my forlorn calls, my thoughts turn to the eminence of a summer that seems forever away. I realize I’ve been so busy yearning for spring’s latent charms that my plans for summer — just a mere month away! — have settled in Limbo. Excepting those of you who are so organized that your summer plans were set in stone three months ago when the rest of us were sleeping off Tequila Monday, I’m fairly confident that at least a robust minority of us are holding our collective breaths for acceptances, summer funding, or job offers. If you’re in my camp, read on.
In an endlessly sleepless night last night, listening to the cold rain beat against Elm Street, I came up with a few alternative summer plans, in case my currently amorphous arrangements fail to congeal. Feel free to use any of the following suggestions as they promise to yield a slew of entertaining stories, though be aware that none of them is, so to speak, a resume-enhancing alternative.
At about 4:17 a.m. last night, I came up with what I have dubbed oh-so-creatively, Plan B. Here’s what you do: Live as a furniture-making hermit in the woods in Western Nevada. The itinerary is fairly simple: Go into the woods armed with a wood-saw, a carving knife, a generous supply of band-aids, a hearty stock of EasyMac, and just set up shop. Hopefully you’d be able to procure some sort of foundational shelter by calling in an old favor with your “uncle” (come on, we all have “uncles”), but I guess you’d be OK with a Robinson-Crusoe-like arrangement if desperation warrants it. You’ll have to be close enough to civilization to sell the furniture you will have created and to periodically re-stock your supply of faux-cheese, but I really think the whole scenario is quite manageable. Provided you live frugally (i.e. choose Busch Light, not Sam Adams) or manage to acquire some essential funds from the aforementioned “uncle,” you could really survive the entire summer in this manner on very little. Living like a veritable nomad definitely has its perks. The most alluring part of Plan B is, of course, that it requires virtually no responsibility on your part at all. You’d have to do what you could to avoid being mauled by wild animals, or mortally wounding yourself with any of your furniture making instruments, but besides those trifles, it seems like a fairly care-free existence.
No takers? Alright, nix the hermit idea. How about Plan C: Step One is to acquire approximately $500 dollars. If you’re not hostile to the prospect of illicit public humiliation, available sources of said funds are slightly more abundant. But do what you must, my self-respecting friends. After getting a hold of the requisite finances, you must simply walk out of the house. Neither a planned destination nor an established mode of transport is compulsory here, but I encourage you to be creative. For example, try skate-boarding to San Francisco, capturing the countryside in finger-paint at least once a day. Or, if you’re a Midwesterner, try circumnavigating Lake Michigan on a scooter, stopping at every diner along your path. And there’s always the recreation of past adventures which could be fun: For example, you could take a motorcycle coast-to-coast on Route 66 or retrace Kerouac’s Benzedrine-ridden bus trip from New York to L.A.
One of the particularly enticing aspects of this rather open-ended Plan C is that you’d almost certainly return to Yale in the fall with a honey-brown tan and some muscle definition, thereby upping your hotness quotient eight-fold, especially compared to your pitiable compatriots who will spend their summer months basking in the glow of a Xerox machine at their big internship in D.C.
At about 5:35 a.m. I came up with a final plan, Plan D. This one, mind you, is the consummate love child of a stressful week and unabashed lunacy. Here it goes: You must begin by making a list of all the little things you’ve ever wanted to do in your whole life. They can’t be things like “meet my soul mate” or “die happy” — we’re taking about events, dares, adventures, etc. For example, on my list I’ve included, to name a few: sky diving, river rafting and writing a book.
Now, this is the hard part: You must simply go do those things that your list delineates. There is no middle man here. What’s stopping you? If you’ve always wanted to learn to play the oboe and become a traveling mistral, now’s your chance. If you want to learn Hungarian, Budapest and its $3-a-night hostels are waiting. You want to become a bike-messenger in Rome? Get yourself some body armor, then go! We put so many false constraints on ourselves and manufacture the most patently absurd goals for our young lives that we forget to do the things that we’ve always wanted to do.
After graduating or, rather, after entering the “real world” (thankfully, there is in my experience a grace period between those events), you really will never have a summer with which to do exactly what you want again. You will have to pay rent. You will have to “get vacation time” from your boss. You will have to be writing your dissertation, managing your stocks, or keeping in touch with your clients. One day, you’re going to have to (gasp!) negotiate who will take care of the kids before leaving for Nevada’s Sierra Nevada mountains on a whim to become a hermit furniture maker. Now is the time, dear friends. Get yourselves out there and scratch off a couple things from a — hopefully — lengthy list of prospective adventures.
Look, regardless of what you choose to do this summer, regardless of whether or not that internship or job offer comes through for you, I think the point remains quite clear: It’s mid-April in the grand scheme of life, and we’re faced with a serious choice. We can either wait around for the proverbial siren spring to dash our ships on the deceptive shores of false success and fictitious goals, or we can throw that lascivious swinger to the curb. Spring’s older sister, summer, is way hotter anyway.
Haley Edwards is an insomniac.