From my earliest memory, summertime has signified the simplicity of free-spirited fun. It marks the moment we shake out of lazy hibernation mode, and venture back outdoors to mix and mingle with neighbors and friends. From childhood through our adult years, summer embodies the time of year when our lives just feel lighter.
In our youth, summer means the end of our first pressure points—being stuck in school or having to complete the ever-dreaded homework. It's that luxury period when we were free to roam outside, and our lives were able to be all play with no work. Childhood summers in the Northern California burbs of the East Bay pretty much revolved around a swimming pool. Weekdays were spent playing water basketball in my babysitter's backyard—along with her sons and other neighbor kids. Homebound days—at the pool-less apartment where I lived—consisted of riding bikes with neighbor friends or playing in warm summer rains.
The only time I was ever inside as a child, was when I would disappear into the sanctuary of my air-conditioned bedroom to read for hours during the 90-degree days in late July or early August.
During what would now be termed my "tween" years, my family moved to Utah, which opened up a whole new level of summer exploration—though it took reaching adulthood to appreciate my summers spent as a much paler version of my former California self.
From our pre-driving years spent sneaking out to toilet paper houses to the summers driving up Little Cottonwood Canyon to shoot down the nature-made water slide known as Moonrock, this quirky state eventually won me over. Venturing the vast canyons that make Salt Lake City such an incredible place to live supplied some of the best summer memories I can recall—while still under the restraints of a curfew.
Which leads to what many refer to as their best spent summers—the college years. Although often broke and in the pangs of navigating what it means to be an adult, summer during the adult-ish years is the incredible moment where you're old enough to partake in the fun activities your city has to offer—like day drinking (ahem, legally)—with a workload that hopefully enables you to have free time.
For me, after months spent dissecting Plato and theories of rationalism vs. empiricism, summer afforded the ability to just be, which I would celebrate minutes after completing my last final by cracking a Corona and reading Hunter S. Thompson's The Rum Diary. It's an activity that might seem like a squandered opportunity to cut loose, but I like beer and reading, so I deemed it a win-win. Plus, starting off slow seemed the best way to ease into the debauchery that would inevitably take place over the remainder of the season—anyone else remember openly carrying 12-packs of PBR into Gallivan Twilight Concerts, followed by an evening of ruckus dancing at The Cabana Club?
Summer even offers respite during the career and/or parenthood phase of life. Whether taking advantage of paid time off to escape the pressure of work projects altogether or making the most of the extra hours of daylight, it's the time of year when day-to-day activities open up beyond work, and leave us feeling more fulfilled—from a variety of locations for patio dining and drinks, to a lively SLC nightlife. In this realm, there are a multitude of ways to turn what would have otherwise been just another workday, into the night you laughed for hours with friends over drinks and exceptional live music. From my vantage point, there has never been a better time to call SLC home.
In the parenthood phase of life, I count down to the day when I'll be spared battles over homework and just getting their asses out of bed in the morning. The season offers the possibility to be the fun mom, and create memories of enjoyable days spent back at the pool, taking my kids to see their favorite artists live, or having a picnic on the hill in Liberty Park while listening to drums and watching the ducks in tandem.
While my role in the scene may have altered slightly—from reading and brown bagging beverages to packing enough snacks to sustain children scooting around the pond and chasing our crazy bird dog away from the ducks—it's still a good time and one I far prefer to being homework police.
All in all, summer is the magical time of year when free spirits are allotted time to wander, and people (regardless of whatever life phase they're in) have more hours in the day to either cut loose, relax, or both. As SLC continues to stack more events into it's summer repertoire each year, this one promises to be another fun-filled season packed with festivals, concerts and a plethora of individual city gatherings. In the spirit of mixing and mingling, I hope to see you all out and about recharging your batteries under the sun. Whether you're at Liberty Park during the drum circle and overhear a crazy lady yelling, "Mr. Jeeves!" Or you see a wine-induced concert-goer jamming out to Ryan Adams in a few weeks, be sure to stop by and say, "Hello!" I'll be thrilled to know I have a reader.
Aspen Perry is a Salt Lake City-based aspiring author and self-proclaimed "philosophical genius." Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org