Imagine a day in your life where all you had to do was play hide-and-seek and watch TV. Imagine a day in your life when there were no deadlines, “Mondays”, bills, rush-hour traffic, emails, or even blog posts to write (wink wink). Just imagine a day when no one expected you to do anything productive and you didn’t question the reason for your very existence. You could spend an entire day planting and replanting a sapling, your fingers caked in mud and your mind free from all the frantic thoughts that usually race through it.
We have lived such days. We have, in fact, lived such days for two months of every year, during the first fifteen years of our lives. This magical period was called summer vacation, or as our parents liked to call it, the keeping-the-brats-engaged nightmare. Some parents would enroll their kids in every possible summer class, and even hand over their children for a few weeks to a bunch of random strangers who ran a scam known as “summer camp”. Some of us went to our “native place” where we got royal treatment from our grandparents and relatives for just showing up once a year. Still others, ones that I envied, went on actual vacations, somewhere “out of station”.
My parents left me to my own devices, as long as I got back home before six in the evening. I was the master of my time during the summer. I was a pre-YouTube DIY girl. Till date, the showcase at home is filled with all the crap I made during these two months. Neither me nor my mother have the strength or the heart to dispose any of them. And when I wasn’t recycling old plastic bottles into misshapen vases, or making POP out of tissue-and-fevicol mush, I was out in the sweltering heat (yes, Bangalore used to have sweltering summers). Every year I went back to school with a fresh tan, cultivated from hours of playing maniacal games with my friends in the apartment. Every friend’s house was an adda at that time. I would just walk into their homes as if it was my own and happily gulp down the snacks that their mothers spent all afternoon making.
It is another matter that I haven’t been to most of their homes in years after summer vacation stopped. It’s strange saying that, isn’t it? Summer vacation just stopped after a point. After completing school, we still had holidays after each semester of college. But that was not summer vacation. It was a different time. I would meet up with friends and “hang out”. We wouldn’t roll around in the sandpit or play Nintendo video games all day. We would still go to each other’s homes but exploring new eateries and “cool places” was of higher priority. And after college? The summers have become a time when we grudgingly drag ourselves to work. We have a specific number of “leaves” that we can take in a year and taking two months off would be career suicide, even if things are slow during these two months and the lull would be a perfect time to take time off.
We cannot get summer vacation back, but we can still try to recreate the magic on a smaller scale. It could be a guitar or pottery class, a good swim, or a short trip “out of station” over the weekend. Because the best part of summer vacation was that after those two months, when we got back to school, we felt new. There was a burst of excitement and energy, and being back to school felt great.
Maybe that’s what we need now too. We need to hit the refresh button on our minds. We need a summer vacation-wala buzz to shake things up in our regular lives.