Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer Heartache (Jennifer Castle)

I, too, never had a summer romance. I'm irked by all the things in art and media that make us feel like we're incomplete if we don't. But that's another blog post.

It wasn't like I never had the opportunity; I didn't spend my high school and college summers at home watching "Dirty Dancing" on a forever-loop. My experiences were teed up perfectly for Love, or at least Lust, but...let's say I hadn't yet found my swing.

I spent two of my summers at performing arts camp. One year, I crushed on this one talented and hilarious guy who, I realize in retrospect, was totally on-fire gay. The second summer, I pined unrequitedly for Jesus. Or rather, the boy who played Jesus in our production of "Jesus Chris Superstar." I played a leper. So, yeah.

All costumed up for "JC Superstar."
What? You wouldn't want to hit this?
I spent a summer as an exchange student in France but as I've written about before, I was too neurotic and insecure to make anything happen with Olivier or Marcus or Laurent or any of the other Eurostuds who dotted the scenery.

When I got to college and found myself able to, you know, actually interact with boys normally, my summers were somehow all about anti-love.

For instance: the summer after my freshman year in college. I'd visited my boyfriend twice, and he'd acted distant and weird. I won't use real names but oh, let's call him Schmadam. When a mutual friend came to stay with me, I saw an envelope from Schmadam in her suitcase. (Yes, this was when you had to stay in touch with people during the summer by sending letters through something called the "U.S. Postal Service.") In one of my least-fine moments, I pocketed it, then read it in the bathroom, learning that Schmadam had hooked up with someone else and was trying to find a way to dump me. I could not make up the flurry of tearful conversations and angrily typed-out correspondence that ensued.

Then there was the summer when, after two years of dating, I realized I no longer loved my first real love, Schmeric. I knew this in May. It took me until August to get up the nerve to tell him. GAH.

The one that still twinges was not a breakup but rather, a romance that almost was. I had spent the last half of my senior year in college afflicted with the biggest crush I've ever felt. I was slowly getting to know this guy, who I'll call Schmosh. We had a certain spark, but time was running out. We were graduating soon and the Real World would not be geographically kind. There were some missed chances right up to the end, and then over that summer, we began a witty, flirty, quietly romantic correspondence. I'm not sure what we were after, but in the end, we became long-distance friends for a few years, then eventually lost touch as our lives took us on different courses, with different people.

The one that might have been. Oof. Is there anything worse?

The way I deal with all of this, the nevers and the uh-ohs and the not-quites, is to weave them into my writing. I'm grateful for that outlet, but I know not everybody has one. These are the things that can take you out of the now and real of life and fill you with want and regret. It's damn hard not to let them.

Whether this summer's legacy is fabulous, bittersweet, or cringeworthy...I hope it'll be memorable for you in its own fated way.


  1. I know EXACTLY what you mean about the almost-was...and about being grateful for that outlet...

  2. Jen, LOVE this. I can so relate. Don't we all have a Schmosh and Schmadam and a Schmeric in our lives.

  3. Thanks, ladies. This one was cathartic!

  4. I loved this post!! Why is it always the one that never was that we continually fantasize about? Bah! I always wanted a summer romance too, but, uh, to me I couldn't just leave them in the summer. I always wanted more. Darn TV and movies for making us thinking just summer is romantic.