Tag Archives: Fresh Prince

Mission: Summer of Fun

30 Jun


 Summer summer summertime

Time to sit back and unwind

– Will Smith when he was still The Fresh Prince, “Summertime” lyrics

After my sophomore year of college I came home to Westchester and spent lots of time in the Greenburgh Public Library pouring over the O’Dwyers PR Guide, making lists of places to apply for a responsible summer internship.  I got an interview at a PR firm and I wore my new suit that I had bought at Ann Taylor or Lord & Taylor.  It was beige, and the top was cream, and I had matching beige pumps.  Sitting in the Manhattan office, my interviewer said, “Garden supplies.  You will spend your summer focused on garden supplies.”

I felt panicked and claustrophobic.  I could not see myself sitting in an office in my beige suit and matching heels doing garden supply PR, whatever that meant, day after day after day after day…

And then…my college roommate invited me to live in Cape Cod that summer with her and a few other girls, rent-free.  I did not spend time weighing my options or listing pros and cons.  I just said “No” to garden supplies and “YES!” to the Cape.

Soon after, I got in my Dad’s maroon 1972 BMW 2002, rolled down the windows (it didn’t have AC), turned up the radio (I spent my life savings at age 16 on a brand new car radio that even had a tape deck!) and DROVE! 

My college roommate’s family owned real estate in Cape Cod, so the first month we stayed at a gorgeous house on the Cape Cod Canal.  There were four of us and we each had our own room, and there was a porch out back and when you stepped off the porch you touched down to sand.  The second month we moved into a three story townhouse in a housing complex in the same town, and two more girls moved in and we paid close to nothing at a couple hundred dollars each in rent.  I drove around for the first few days I was there looking for a waitressing job and filling out applications and then I got TWO – one at a cafe where the owner didn’t have what you would call a business sense or a profit motive.  He was taking a break from his other career as a Deadhead to dabble in restaurant owning.  On one of my first shifts, he took the staff, which was comprised mostly of me and my roommates, to get restaurant supplies at The Christmas Tree Shops, where he proceeded to steal many salt & pepper shakers.  On another shift, we all went to a waiter’s house to hang out at his pool.  My other job was more stable, at an established waterfront restaurant that also catered weddings.

I worked hard, often double shifts and for large chunks of time without a day off, but I also PLAYED.  I remember driving around and exploring, running along the canal or through the streets at sunset, picking up fudge swirl ice cream on the way home from work for a late-night treat, buying a basketball and shooting hoops just because our housing complex had a basketball court, eating Burger King Italian Chicken Sandwiches dipped in ketchup and fries dipped in barbecue sauce multiple times a week, lying on the carpeted floor watching videos for TLC’s “Waterfalls” and Boyz II Men’s “Water Runs Dry,” having crushes on boys with Boston accents, eating lots of clam chowdah, going dancing at Landfall in Woods Hole, taking road trips to Boston and Winchester and Marblehead, walking around Cambridge in the rain, seeing a movie at the Brattle Theatre, eating burgers at The Tasty and burritos at Border Cafe in Harvard Square, trying to use my fake id – sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, kissing a cute boy in the parking lot of a bar, renting mopeds on Martha’s Vineyard, thinking I looked hot in my bikini, and feeling that way, too, taking late-night trips to IHOP, reading The Alienist, going to a beach party and an outdoor concert, blasting The Dave Matthews Band cds, leaving at midnight to drive from Cape Cod to New York, sitting on the back porch smoking Marlboro Lights with my feet up on the rail.  I learned how to open a bottle of wine.  I crashed my car at Logan Airport and the police officer that arrived on the scene looked like Mel Gibson.  I had my heart broken and cried on the couch and thought the heart-hurt would never stop.

In the summer of 1995, I did all the quintessential summer things and I had FUN. 

Fun used to be a lot easier to come by and I didn’t really have to think about it, it just happened.  Now my default mode is to work really hard with no room for fun.  When I get busy (which is most of the time), I feel something click.  I get really super-focused, and go into nose-to-the-grindstone mode.  There are things that need to be done.  Goals to reach.  Life changes to make.  Finances to worry about.  Chores to take care of.  The laundry has to get done, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, and I have to realize my life purpose.

I was face-to-grindstone a few weeks ago working hard at home alone on a Saturday afternoon when I heard a voice in my head say (whine), “I’M NOT HAVING ANY FUN!”  I went out that night which improved the situation, but it was a temporarily fix, like slapping a band-aid on my fun deprivation, when I needed a full-out fun-transfusion.

Being an adult with responsibilities, stresses, obligations, worries, and a bathtub that will not get cleaned if I don’t clean it, it is too easy to lose track of fun.  To de-prioritize it until I forget about it.  And fun doesn’t just fall into my lap like it used to.  No one is calling me these days offering me months of rent-free/low-cost housing in a summer vacation town.  Spontaneity no longer feels comfortable.  My immediate response to a fun invitation is, “I can’t afford that,” and then, “I don’t have time.”

And what was fun for me at 19 is not the same thing that will be fun for me now.  I wouldn’t find it enjoyable today to say, crash my car, fall in love with a jerk, and then smoke a pack of Marlboro Lights.  (It really wasn’t ever fun for me to crash my car, and it definitely wasn’t fun paying for the damages, but the Mel Gibson lookalike thing made it slightly less traumatizing.  And looking back, the jerk/bad boy/heartbreak thing is overrated, and smoking is bad for your health, I don’t do it anymore, and I definitely would NOT advocate it.  I just always seem to feel so nostalgic about my cigarette-smoking memories…).  But that makes it a project, and a fun one at that, to explore what is FUN for me today, what I would LOVE doing, what would light me up and make me giddy with excitement and anticipation just thinking about it.

Because fun doesn’t come so easily anymore, I have to be vigilant to make sure I get my required daily dose.  People are busier now than when I was 19, and their schedules are more packed, so fun takes a little advance planning.  And when I receive spontaneous or semi-spontaneous invitations, I can practice overriding Ican’taffordthatIdon’thavetime with a resounding YES!  I still feel the same buzz of excitement and adventure shooting through me when I say Yes to something wonderful at 33 as I did at 19.  Last summer I squeezed a little fun in but still felt deficient in that area and wished that I had had so much more, so this summer I am on a mission to have a Summer of Fun and I am proactively seeking it out. 


Is your summer set-up for fun maximization?  Take your fun pulse – scan your life to see if you are infusing enough fun into it.  Have you orchestrated moments in your days, weeks, and months purely dedicated to doing things you love and spending time with people you love in places you love?  Update your fun list – what would be purely, blissfully fun for you right now?  Then take a few things off your to do list and get to work checking things off on your fun list.  Summer is a time for slowing down and feeling good so let the season inspire you to do the same.  Even if fun takes a little more effort now than it used to, the payoff is exponential and well worth it.  And, in the words of Will Smith back in the day when he was still The Fresh Prince and fun was waiting around every corner, take the next few months stretching out before you to just sit back and unwind…

Wishing you a fun-filled summer!

Lots of love!

Jen xoxo

P.S.  I was planning to write this newsletter last Friday but I said YES to the beach!

Copyright © 2009 by Jennifer Garam