Lately, I’ve been feeling really bitter.
In the past four years, I haven’t had a summer vacation at all. My university is on a quarter system, and we have two optional six-week sessions every summer. Every single summer for the past four years, I’ve taken two summer classes per summer session. That means I’ve been in school year-round for the past four years, except for 2-3 weeks of winter break and a few days here and there for spring break and at the end of summer, right before fall classes start.
This spring, I had had enough of it. All through spring quarter, I told everyone that I was only going to enroll in the second summer session this year. I was going to take the first half of summer off from school and spend time with my family. I was going to do all the things I never get to do anymore, like, get a full night’s sleep, check out stacks of books from the library, rekindle my long-abandoned artistic abilities, relax.
Instead, the night before first summer session began, I decided to register for biology. And so, during the past two weeks, I’ve been angry with myself for making my parents shell out another thousand dollars just so I can take one measly class and for once again cheating myself out of a summer vacation even though I’ve been burning myself out for four years and could most definitely use a break.
But then, during this past three-day weekend, I slept in everyday. I shared cake and laughter with the girls at my weekly halaqa. I spent hours talking to and making plans to meet up with a high school friend I haven’t seen for over a year, and a college friend from San Diego. I curled up on the futon and re-read Jorge Luise Borge’s Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings. I took lots of naps, and ate real meals. I prayed. I got out my sister‘s oil pastels and did some artwork for the first time since high school.
I had a beautiful three days, and I’ve realized I can still enjoy summer, school or not.
This summer –
– I will watch cartoons.
– I will take detours
– I will play hopscotch
– I will help someone learn
– I will buy something I really want, and give it away to someone I know will appreciate it just as much
– I will blow bubbles
– I will prepare an entire meal, and invite friends over
– I will make funny faces at people
– I will order double-scoops of ice cream on a waffle cone, and try new flavors
– I will listen to the sound of silence
– I will drive with all the car windows rolled down
– I will add a quarter to a stranger’s parking meter
– I will stop by my local farmer’s market
– I will give myself pep talks. I will tell myself I can do it. And then do it.
– I will give thanks
– I will eat watermelon
– I will take walks more often
– I will pay all my library fines
– I will volunteer to pull weeds in the garden
– I will listen to my mother, instead of just hearing her
– I will pray more often, and with concentration
– I will clean my room and get rid of all the boxes
– I will take more walks in the garden with my father
– I will bake snickerdoodles
– I will stack all my post-it-scribbled book recommendations in a pile, pick one at random every few days, and read
– I will sit on the wooden bench in the shade at the base of the fig tree on our lawn
– I will teach people to smile more widely
– I will stop automatically assuming I will fail
– I will cook dinner for my family
– I will take time off from school without feeling guilty about it
– I will eat fruit straight off the trees
– I will stop getting parking tickets
– I will do the work I love, whatever that happens to be
– I will take naps anytime I want to, without feeling guilty
– I will visit local bookstores, and browse to my heart’s content
– I will do artwork
– I will apply for scholarships
– I will spend more quality time with my brother
– I will continue with my newfound sewing streak
– I will take more “road trips” to Berkeley
– I will read Urdu novels
– I will learn to be more generous and open-hearted
– I will say “I don’t know” when I just don’t know
– I will remember that I don’t have to do everything I set out to do