Dear Little Brother,
I couldn’t help but think about our talk last week. How overwhelmed you felt with the opportunities life had given you and also the tons of unanswered questions you still had about your summer in NYC (like, for starters, where you were going to live!). It feels like not too long ago I was doing the same things you are. But instead of New York City it was Boston for me, and instead of 2014 – it was 2008. That was a pivotal summer for me for so many reasons, and in reflecting back to those New England summer days, here are my hopes and advice for you…
1. Be a “yes” to all life throws at you this summer. Drive up to Vermont at 4am to go watch a dirt bike competition just for the day? Sure – why not! Climb a rope to get onto a rooftop from a 4th story open-air stairwell to get beautiful views of the city? Great idea! (Especially after a few gin and tonics). Choosing beer over groceries and grazing over all the samples at Whole Foods and the mall eatery instead? You got fed didn’t you? And lets not forget to initiate a staring contest with the guy (or in your case, girl) who won’t stop giving you the googly eyes every time you happen to be facing their direction. I was hoping to creep him out enough to make him go away. Didn’t quite work out that way. I guess what I’m trying to say is, be a little less responsible than you normally are this summer. You’re 22 going on 40 some days, and there will be time for all that serious stuff.
2. Expect to have the best time of your life, but also expect to be more broke than you’ve ever been. I slept on a twin mattress on a floor in a single bedroom with Ingrid that summer. Her twin mattress was on the other side of the room. We had a small round table that dubbed as a desk during the day, and an old futon that we were both sleeping on by the end of the summer. We had no A/C and would steal fans from one another when the first person fell asleep – and despite stripping down to sports bras and shorts, it was still ungodly hot in there. Our kitchen was the size of a small closet, and Ingrid ate cereal with water a few times (I think she is still proud of that one). We lived on the 5th floor of a building whose elevator was more of a death trap than a mode of transportation. In fact, Ingrid’s dad almost lost an arm helping us move in the first few days…we chose to take the stairs after that. Having to pay for gas hurt us deep in our soul, and the weekends we managed to get away to Scituate to visit Ingrid’s mom, we ate like animals and slept like babies. Money comes and money goes. There’s beauty in the solo moments in your life when there are no strings attached to anyone but yourself.
3. You’re going to get lost. A lot. Maybe not as much as I did because NYC is mostly commuted by subway – but that moment will come. Pause. Pull out your smartphone, and all will be well again. Unless your battery is dead. That is when you fight your man instincts to figure it out on your own and instead opt to ask someone where the hell you are.
4. Preserve your memories. I wrote weekly emails to everyone back home about all the adventures, people, and quirks about the city I had noticed that week. I kept a running list on my phone of things I didn’t want to forget. Perhaps for you it will be photos, or short videos. Or maybe just business cards or matchboxes of the places you’ve visited. It will be fun to look back on those one day.
5. Call mom once a week. I remember dad and I fighting about my lack of communication that summer. Where I am now, expecting my first little one, I can see why it was hard to not hear from me when they were used to having me around all the time. Mom will never admit to needing to hear from you but trust me – it matters. Choose a day, choose a time, and check-in even if only for 10 minutes. It will go a long way in not getting mom’s infamous sass and I’m pretty sure you gain brownie points with God when you do those types of things.
6. Get outside the city whenever you can. I loved Boston, everything about it. The people, the sports, the accents; but I also have amazing memories of the times we got outside the city. Like ocean kayaking for the very first time and sailing off of Cape Cod only to be followed by horrific nausea (it was either the Mikes Hard Lemonade or rough waters that are to blame). I roasted on a ferry in the heat of July when I decided to wear all black to Martha’s Vineyard and biking through woods to small beaches Erik knew of. I remember taking a walk with Ingrid to collect the heart shaped stones you find on the beaches only to end up mistakenly stumbling upon a nude beach of retired folks. Now THAT was a moment. We visited friends of Ingrid’s that lived by a salt marsh and had the best dinner that night. Shrimp curry, rice, and sautéed spinach. I still remember. We woke up to fresh blueberry scones and ground coffee brewing the next morning. I thought I was in heaven. I read, I lounged, and at times, I did nothing – and you know what, it was just as much fun as the nights of partying in the city.
7. When it’s all said and done, coming back home will be a buzz kill. I stayed up all night visiting every bar I loved the night before I had to catch my 8am flight. I couldn’t believe 3 months had gone by so fast. I hugged every friend I made a million times, and said goodbye to every milestone I loved (Goodbye T that catches on fire every other week. Goodbye reflection pool. Goodbye building/sweat lodge.) Ingrid and I hugged and cried at the airport as her then boyfriend sang me a tune bidding me farewell. Yeah, coming back home to responsibilities and school was all sorts of awful – but you know what…it passed, and now I only remember how much I loved that summer.
I guess what I am trying to say little brother is that there is a season for everything in life. A season to be young and reckless, a season to be confused and lost, a season to settle down and invest your time and energy in others. That’s the beauty of life; it changes. This is way sappier that I could ever be in person with you but just know that I am SO proud of you. Watching you experience life makes me smile and when push comes to shove and you’re tackling your next adventure, this group of crazies you call family will be here to root you on.
I guess all there is left to say is….GO! This summer will be a legendary one!