I mostly spent my summer after high school in Los Angeles, except for a road trip up the Pacific coast and a couple of local camping trips. This summer was perfect not in spite of but because of the undertones of separation and finality that everyone tried not to talk about. We were all about to go our own ways and have our own experiences. I started to appreciate all the cliche “high school moments”—I didn’t go to graduation, but I loved prom. One of my heels broke and I was dancing barefoot the entire night.
In Joshua Tree I stayed up until sunrise. Late night conversations were one of my favorite parts of summer—though I have a lot of favorite parts. I learned about myself in ways I didn’t expect to. I learned about my friends in ways I didn’t expect to. I started fires and put them out and slept on the ground and ate delicious food made by everyone except me. (I still don’t know how to cook.) I learned how to be by myself for long periods of time. I learned how to be with other people for long periods of time. I learned how to play Spit and rediscovered my love for Clue. I learned that most things, especially shoes, can be fixed with safety pins. I learned that I am definitely not a morning person. I learned how to jumpstart a car.
I called AAA for the first time. I cried about things I never thought I would cry about, and laughed about things I never thought I would laugh about. I thought about reflections—not just in mirrors but in all kinds of things: car doors, windows, glasses, empty bottles, still water, and even other people. I thought about growth and creation, about animals and plants and children.
I’m going to college in January, but in the next few months I’ll be traveling. I leave for Berlin in a week and a half, and I am terrified but at the same time feel more ready that I ever thought possible. There will never be another summer like this one.