I finished exams last night. I felt my pores start to glow summer sunshine as information leaked out of my brain—the letters and numbers vanished. Into thin air. I pictured a little pink sparkly cloud and then, snap! Gone!
Sparkles and confetti fell around my feet and swirled up along the crayon beams of the Alsop building as I skipped up the steps, hands in the air, stopped for a little celebration jig with some friends, and sprinted to my bike. My feet had in fact been pulling me along ever since I jotted my last notes on the Delaware people’s treaty with William Penn, recorded in the form of a wampum belt in the 1680s, then ran my exam pages to my TA.
My joyful self having finally settled down after a few bounces on the mini trampoline in our living room, and high fives all around, I began to plot my next big adventure. Here it is:
Step One: Build nest egg
It has been recently brought to my attention that I should be earning heaps of money to keep up with my tastes. Not to buy things (though my love affairs with random junk will continue to thrive), but to save for my ideas. I have a dream of driving a van to Venezuela, in two years I want to study drawing and painting at the École Supérieure de Beaux-Arts in Paris (swooon), and in the meantime I’d like to think about a few lofty art projects that require a little $$$$. $o, goal number one: save money.
My parents use this little plastic treasure chest filled with envelopes to divide up and organize their dough by writing categories on the envelope, allotting varying amounts of skrill to varying categories.
My method is as follows: adopt the persona of Little Orphan Annie. This puts you in the mood for adventure, and forces you to come to terms with the fact that Miss Hannigan isn’t ever going to give you any pocket money so you’d better just give up on any treats. But in the back of your mind, you know Daddy Warbucks is out there somewhere, so there’s hope as well as reason to browse in all of your favourite places. In other words, only take as much money out of the bank at any given time as you know you will spend immediately. Sigh. If only pretending as hard as I can would make it real.
Step Two : Advance athletic capability
There are people on Earth who are good at sports, there are others who are not. I register at a point on the spectrum that encompasses casual lawn sports like bocce or croquet, some badminton, casual to vigorous walking, bouncing (on or off mini trampolines), jumping from low heights, sauntering, light jogging, endurance swimming and splashing, and strictly vigorous dancing.
No matter where you fit on the scale, there’s always room to improve. I’m going to learn to play tennis this summer, with catch as my backup. Being on a softball team at age 11 unfortunately hasn’t translated into the ability to catch, and it seems like such an admirable trait/ ability.
But mostly I think I’ll target my focus at flexibility and general fitness – broadening my range of tricks while hiking, canoeing, or just prancing around the country.
Step Three : Travel!
Ain’t nothin’ like a summer road trip, and I plan on taking many. As many as possible. This counts as growing up because of the mobility /independence factor involved. You don’t need a car to go on a road trip, just good friends or good planning skills. Looking for a jolly holiday without leaving the city? I HAVE THE ANSWER. Short of finding your own Bert, grab a bike (grab a Bixi if you don’t have one, bike down to the ferry (at the foot of Bay Street, at Queen’s Quay, pronounced key), which is a double win because the proximity facilitates guests coming to Toronto via GOtrain, and spend the day on the island!!! Bike, swim, picnic, and while away the hours. So pleasant. Plus, bike around the residential area if you have ever dreamt of living in a garden-jungle. You’ll know what I mean.
Step Four : Become cultured
You know when you’re in a bookstore or library and you can’t stop dreaming about transferring all that delicious knowledge, all those stories, all those words! in your brain? You just think you might explode with the excitement to read? Summer is the perfect antidote. Because the only way to rest easy when you get this wound up by books is to read, read, read, read, read. The more you read, the more you know, the better you spell, the more interesting you become, etc etc etc. My mom says a bored person is a boring person, so if you’re bored this summer, don’t risk a social flub, and pick up a book!
Don’t know where to start? Ask a clerk at a bookstore or refer to roster of favourites.
Do you love The Royal Tenenbaums? Or maybe you’re a tabloids type? If you love a good plot with plenty of twists and room for pondering, plus a cast of recurring characters and plenty of wit, there’s a chance you’re a J.D. Salinger person. Try Nine Stories, and see if you can get the Glass family out of your head, or manage to put the rest of this classic American author’s oeuvre down. Bet you can’t.
Does the idea of the open road set your legs to wanderin’? Try Jack Kerouac’s On The Road (super classic alert) or John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley in Search of America (a little off the beaten path, hardy har har).
Looking forward to some seriously muggy afternoons? Do you dream away the winter hours with visions of sky-high temperatures and heat-induced laziness? Pick up F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. And for the love of God, read it before you see the movie.
Summer in the city can have you contemplating whether humans were really meant to live in towers of boxes or perhaps running free in the wilderness. If you need reassurance to stay, read Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. If your wanderlust crosses the Atlantic to the motherland, read Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible.
And don’t forget to share the love. We all know Belle hit the jackpot when the Beast gave her his library, so don’t be a stickler with your literary stock. Sharing is caring, knowledge is power, a true friend shares books. And picking one out specifically for someone makes them feel really loved. That’s the jackpot we plebeians outside of Disney bliss aim for.
Step Five : Hang out with Mom and Dad
There is a lot of wisdom to be gleaned from one’s parents. My dad can name trees and flowers just like that, and my mom knows how to make anything better than anyone else on the entire planet, locked. So I’m going to try to level up my skills with their help. You know, plant identification and gardening know-how, jam and jelly making, BBQ pizza skill, seamstress fundamentals, etc. We’ll see how far my ancestral knowledge gathering goes, but more importantly I’m looking forward to getting to know my parents and my grandparents as people rather than faraway adults, now that I, too am a “grown up”.
~ Annie Webber