If pumpkin carving is an art form then I have a thing for masquerading as an artist every All Hallows’ Eve.
This summer has been all about racking up frequent flyer miles, living out of suitcases and tackling giants by the name of Universal and Disney World in the relentless Florida one-two punch of heat and humidity. Above all, these last couple of months have emphasized the sacrifices we make and the lengths we go to spend time with people we like more than the general population in extraordinary (and sometimes extraordinarily expensive) places.
A few things this summer has taught me:
No travel bug escape is complete without music. I don’t want anything else in my ear as I wait on the runway, feeling the plane come to life beneath and around me while discretely staking a claim on the armrest. Sorry, Person Next to Me, it’s going to be a long flight! And White Lies is along for the ride! The lyrics suit the experience almost too well, it’s a bit too obvious, but the way the song builds in tandem with a departing plane and mirrors that exhilaration has been one of my staples of summer.
I’m not sure if I’ve really felt distance before these last few weeks.
The pursuit of higher education took me an ocean away from home and I have family and friends in nearly every time zone, but distance has always felt manageable because technology bridges that gap. If I ever felt homesick, I could call my parents or my sister and it takes seconds to text or tweet. My grip on this seemingly universal truth started to slip with the news that my great grandma was sick and in and out of a hospital in the Philippines. I grew up with her room only ever a few doors down from mine and after her return to the motherland, we would only get to talk once every few months over the phone and saw each other face-to-face even less. Last night, Friday the 13th of all nights, the woman I knew simply as “Grandma Sally” passed away at age 89.
Thirty years ago, John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club, the quintessential high school movie, opened in theaters. When I was eighteen, someone asked me what my favorite movie was and I readily said The Breakfast Club, duh. Fast forward five years and nothing makes me laugh and feel this particular brand of mortification quite like remembering that and repeating it now.
I’ve grown into the type of person who will be the first to tell you The Breakfast Club isn’t the alpha and omega of the genre, that it isn’t without its problems and that the hype around the movie is greater than anything within it. It is no longer my favorite movie. I’ve long since dashed the concept of having a favorite movie. (Seriously, that’s like asking me to name a favorite niece or nephew.) Although I can nitpick and sift the flaws out of The Breakfast Club, I can also recognize the little sparks of genius throughout this movie about teens in detention on a weekend, unconsciously seeking to define themselves, seeking a stable sense of identity and finding common ground, finding understanding in unexpected places.
I never considered myself an artist, more of a doodle enthusiast. When I was in school, both high school and college, by the end of a class I’d look down and see my terribly messy notes framed by doodles and scribbles in the margins. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing it and 100% of the time I have no idea what I’m even drawing. This was sort of like that except I had a piece of chalk instead of a ballpoint pen and my margins were a bit wider — my driveway.
From the moment my little brother put that first piece of chalk in my hand, my body went into autopilot. The next thing I knew, two hours had gone by and the sun was getting ready to set. I found my hands and yoga pants dusted with chalk and a good portion of the driveway covered in doodles. I couldn’t stop smiling. I was proud. Not because I have any artistic ability at all, but because that was the most carefree fun I’ve had in a while.