For the first time in my life, I won’t be spending the summer in my hometown in the Bay Area.
I won’t get to visit the Highlands Park soccer field, with its well laid-out turf which represented so much liberation from the trials of school and girls while I was growing up. I won’t get to experience the arguments, shit-talking and banter at Little Saigon, the local pho place, while the waiters rush us because we stay long after we’ve finished eating. I won’t get to deceive myself into gaining irrational self-confidence in my rap abilities in my friend Daniel’s makeshift home recording studio.
All in all, things are going to be different.
But let’s not pretend they haven’t been a little different for a while.
One of my favorite songs is “Summer Friends” by Chance the Rapper. There’s one line that always sticks with me:
“Our summer don’t get no shine no more.”
Summer, in the human experience, represents this idealized, mystical period of extended contentment where responsibilities fall by the wayside and the 9 p.m. sunsets provide an illusion of never-ending euphoria. When I was younger, this illusion felt very, very real.
I lived for the seven-game wiffle ball series we’d play in the makeshift field in Jacob’s front yard. I lived for driving my friends through the hills when I didn’t have “my year” and lying to my parents about my whereabouts. I lived for the 40-person games of capture the flag we’d play on the roof of our high school before the police came and told us to scram. I lived for Jay picking everyone up and shuttling us to Ocha Cafe, where we threw straw wrappers and talked each other into inhaling the spicy chicken powder. I lived for the lime popsicles we would eat at midnight when it was just too damn hot.
That little bubble I lived in had everything I could have ever asked for. There, my friends and I were completely in sync. Maybe we were being naive. Maybe we just hadn’t experienced the world yet. But our world was constricted to the collection of cities that surrounded us, and we were perfectly okay with it.
Then, our time slowly started trickling down as we entered the final years of high school. What seemed like a lake of entertaining things to do in little old Belmont started to dry up. We were no longer amused by the shenanigans that took up our time. Nobody wanted to make their own fun; they just wanted to smoke weed. Foolish and memorable conversations gave way to staring at our screens in silence. We grew restless. We wanted to escape our once-plentiful, little bubble.
Steps were made to do that. Minimum wage jobs were undertaken. The smart ones snagged internships to get a headstart on getting out of the Peninsula. We actively chose to do away with our summers of freedom in favor of projects we didn’t want to do in order to better prepare us for our futures, as well as prepare us for leaving. As the cycle of life demands, everyone was slowly getting ready to move on, tentatively putting one foot out the door.
We actively chose to do away with our summers of freedom in favor of projects we didn’t want to do in order to better prepare us for our futures, as well as prepare us for leaving.
Graduation hit, and with that, Carlmont High School, the single entity that physically kept us all together, also ended. We were no longer required to spend half of each day, everyday, together. The funny thing is that I didn’t process the changes at first. This group of friends was all I’d ever known. They were the kids I threw pens at everyday in the halls; the kids I’d gone to war with on the soccer field. I’d grown, matured (somewhat) and bonded with them throughout my whole development. I figured there was no way we could possibly drift apart.
But, college or full-time jobs came, and all of us went on to experience new worlds and environments. Our journeys and development continued independently of the people who once shaped us — which is important. Everyone deserves the opportunity to progress as a human being outside any past restraints their old relationships created. For me, that opportunity was enticing and exciting.
Yet, when we all came back for the summer, things felt profoundly different. We had new interests and goals that didn’t involve anyone from our old circles. We didn’t have time to enjoy summer as we once did; we had work and jobs to do. Early mornings and early nights were required as we transitioned to our eventual adult lives. We still were able to create some memorable times when we were free, but it never did really feel the same. We were too distracted with our new lives. We could no longer afford to be as present in our own world, because it no longer represented our whole reality.
Yet, when we all came back for the summer, things felt profoundly different.
It fucking sucks. But that’s ok.
Throughout my childhood, my mom would always remind me that “the cycle of life” doesn’t wait for anyone. There is no way to freeze a moment in time. The best you can do is “gather ye rosebuds while you may” and be present in the special moments. I think I did a decent job at doing that.
These people will always hold a place in my heart. Our shared memories and experiences are too powerful to completely fall by the wayside. Heaven knows what our futures will hold when college ends. Yet just as our “college friends” will remain present in our lives post-college, so too will our hometown ones. Paths will cross, weddings will be thrown, graduation parties will be attended. The potential to rekindle with these people after years of growth is impelling.
In the meantime, we will have to embrace the fleeting moments of connection: the brief snapchats giving quick updates; the flood of nostalgia when a certain song plays; the odd weekend visit or two that will provide time to catch up on the lives we no longer share.
I did lie earlier when I said I wouldn’t be home for the summer. I plan on coming home for a weekend, or two or three. Maybe I’ll see my friends if they happen to be free, let alone in town. Maybe we’ll get to kick the ball around. Maybe we’ll grab a bowl of pho. Whatever happens, the moments will be short-lived because we no longer need the long ones. It’s understood.
A quick moment, and we’re on our way. We’ll find our way back again.
As Chance says, “Summer friends don’t stay.”
Kian Karamdashti will forever associate “Money Longer” by Lil Uzi Vert with his senior year of high school.