By Lisa Sugarman
The summer changes me; it always has.
For ten months a year I’m full throttle. Working. Mothering. Coaching. Caregiving. Up at 5:00am, skating through the routine of the day on razor-sharp blades until ten o’clock at night, if I’m lucky. And with the exception of a few holidays and school vacations that give me the chance to catch my breath, that’s the pace I keep most of the time. It’s the pace most of us keep.
But in the summer, I’m someone else altogether. In the summer, I transform. Schedules loosen; days lengthen; we relax. That’s when my hair goes up; my flip flops go on; and my sunglasses are either over my eyes or on my head for the entire months of June and July. Except for keeping my toes freshly painted (I am a girl, remember), the rest of my life makes a hard stop and I reach for cut-offs, trucker hats, and board shorts.
In the summer, I’m bohemian.
Now me being me, I’ve of course done extensive research on why this is my perfect summer personality, versus, say, a gypsy or a beach bum, or a hippie. While all of them have a certain degree of appeal, most of them just aren’t me.
Right off I know I can’t consider myself a gypsy, mainly because I have no interest in traveling very far over the summer. And picking up and taking off is kind of a hallmark quality of being a gypsy—that and the fact that I don’t speak Romany and couldn’t tell someone’s fortune to save my life. So I know that’s out.
The peace loving, non-violent hippie lifestyle is definitely intriguing, but I’m neither a flower child nor a drug abuser, so that draws a big black line through that category. Plus, I just never got into Janis Joplin and I know I couldn’t embrace the tie-dye look seven days a week.
Now a beach bum, that had some real potential. I definitely consider myself someone who loves Mother Earth and life more than anything (children and husband not withstanding). And I obviously love the water, considering you can find me on a SUP board every day the sun’s out. I’m also a huge fan of board shorts, not just for their comfort factor, but because they have a ridiculously long and forgiving inseam that’s perfect for someone like me who has issues with her inner thighs. I also believe in the beach bum philosophy of live for today, hurt no one, and love.
Unfortunately, though, as much as I’d love to consider myself a full-on beach bum in the summer, I just can’t. The Urban Dictionary definition just won’t allow it. That’s because a beach bum is also clearly defined as someone who’s unemployed, on welfare, with no real education, who makes extra cash by selling margaritas while naked on the beach. And while that is hugely appealing, it’s just not an accurate definition of my summer self. Even though I’m off for the summer because I work in the school system, I still get a paycheck ten months a year. So I’m employed. I also went to grad school which proves that I’m educated. And I don’t sell booze on the beach to make extra money. (Why, I’m not exactly sure.) Plus, I happen to feel strongly about clothing and I much prefer a good Summer Shandy with lemon to a margarita.
So that leaves bohemian.
And when I really break it down, it’s the bohemian lifestyle that fits me the best.
See, I’ve always had this insatiable urge to suck every second out of my days, which is classic bohemian. I’m an eternal optimist; I have a pretty wide range of tastes in music, fashion, art, and literature. And, according to my kids, I occasionally wear a mixture of weird clothes and mix different fashions together that have no business being on the same body at the same time.
Oh yeah, and while I still feel a compulsion to shave my legs and armpits through the summer months, it’s the bohemian way of life I really embrace most of the time. I often wish I didn’t have to be a slave to daily grooming like doing hair and putting on makeup and exfoliating simply because they take up too much time that could be better spent on a paddle board.
So for two, beautiful months, I enjoy my bohemian rhapsody. I play it loud and on a loop so it just repeats itself every day. And somehow these two exceptional months are just enough to keep me going for the other ten.
Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItisWhatitisColumn. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on Amazon.com and at Spirit of ’76 Bookstore.