The two of them topple out of my car, stretching after a two-hour drive filled with soul-sucking, tone-deaf singing coming from the back seat. Opening the abandoned cottage’s crusted-over door unleashes memories from long ago. Mice find refuge as lights are turned on and beds are topped with enough luggage to clothe an army. The dusty wooden floors would become disturbed by socked feet scuffling along as dance parties would send neighbours into lunacy.
This summer was like no other. It was a “wondering which one of your friends could pretend to be sober the best if someone walked into the secrecy of the cabin” kind-of-summer. A “charcoal facemasks, erotica reading, rom-com watching, pancake-with-nutmeg making” kind-of-summer. A “double-shot twisted tea out of frosted glasses equipped with reusable straws because the turtles are winning in 2022” kind-of-summer. A “skinny-dipping in a not-so-private lake that you were skating atop merely six months prior” kind-of-summer. A “sleeping around the half-toppled mega Jenga tower because someone had too many twisted teas” kind-of-summer.
But most importantly, it was a “friends are reunited and running jokes come full circle under candlelit séances” kind-of-summer.
It was a cottage kind-of-summer.
Are you happy to be in Paris?
“Don’t get your passport stolen. Don’t get your passport stolen.” I repeat this mantra in my head as I walk through the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, rolling my small carry-on behind me. Observing other tourists lined up by the baggage claim, it seems I’m not the only one who has packed my most extravagant outfits for this trip.
With most Covid-19 restrictions lifted across Europe, you bet I was catching the first flight out of the GTA. Naturally, Paris was my top choice. What isn’t there to love about the City of Lights? Fresh baguettes, pastries, and crêpes. Live French accordion melodies. The historical architecture. I’m embarrassed to admit that I spent most of my first day overwhelmed with what to see and eat.
Within the second day of my Paris voyage, I become a certified metro rider.
By the third day, while walking along La Seine, I convince myself that I need to move and live in the French capital. My French immersion speaking skills have not failed me, and I could definitely live off of croissants for the rest of my life.
On the fourth day, my passport paranoia was justified after I witnessed my first pick-pocketer. It happened just outside the Eiffel Tower, and I didn’t even realize it until a man started screaming and rummaging through his backpack. As I walked away, I silently prayed for the poor monsieur who lost his wallet.
But oui, I was very happy to be in Paris!
P.S. I didn’t get my passport stolen.
After spending most of my university experience online, this summer was my first real opportunity to taste in-person learning. For the last few years, sitting in a classroom with my classmates felt like a distant dream. This summer, that dream finally came to fruition. My long-dreaded first set of in-person exams did not take away from the excitement for in-person, masked classes. Though meeting new people still felt foreign, interacting with classmates was so much more rewarding than I remembered it being. It felt exhilarating.
My dream-like summer continued into Caribana festivities in Toronto—celebrations that we were all estranged from for years at the hands of Covid-19. The music, the colours, the festivities—it all felt amazing. Gathering with friends and family and immersing ourselves in our cultural displays felt like that despite stagnant lockdowns we hadn’t missed a thing.
My summer? Dream-worthy.
The summer of normalcy
The very first thing I did when school finished in April was… More school. Exhausting, I know, but necessary for my mental health and wellbeing. I was not about to take six courses in the fall and winter semesters of my final year of undergrad.
It was exciting to finally have classes where I could see my peers’ faces when we talked. Courses, reverted to their original designs, which meant I could work with a partner on our excavation project instead of being forced to do it alone.
However, my favourite part of my summer was being able to spend quality time with my friends and family. I had spent so much time alone that I did not realize how much I appreciated social interactions. After two long years, I could finally go out to restaurants and movies with friends, and I even got to see family members that I had not seen since the pandemic started.
This summer was one where life returned to normal after a long time spent in isolation and uncertainty. Normalcy never felt better.