It’s the second half of August, when it’s still quite definitely summer, but the promise of fall is already revealing itself in tiny ways. The barely perceptible nip of cold in the evenings, the crunchy leaves that are starting accumulate on the sidewalks, the final accommodations for back-to-school (or, for many, the first day of school that seems to come earlier and earlier with each passing year). Late in August, every night brings with it that Sunday-night dread, the end of block parties and gardening and fun in the sun—the return to being a sensible grown-up, back to the grind and business as usual.
It’s inevitable, of course. We idealize summer, pin our dreams on it and even if the months from June to August were, in truth, not that different from the rest of year—what with carpools and appointments and laundry and Real Housewives—its ending makes us wistful: no more hazy sunsets, no more pool parties, no more bug spray or tick checks (yes, even tick checks seem precious when contemplating excavating the down parkas from the coat closet). How can we exit summer vacation without descending into a funk? How can we keep that Beach Blanket Bingo Instagram filter on our lives even as the days get shorter and the Halloween (or, worse, CHRISTMAS) decorations mock us every time we enter the drugstore?
1. Make Plans
Just because summer’s over doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. Plan something special to look forward to, whether it’s a trip for spring break or your pumpkin-picking excursion. Put dates on the calendar that aren’t dread-inducing. Sure, you have to remember when to pay the phone bill, but you also have to remember that the live action film version of Jem and the Holograms will be released on October 23. That’s a Friday. Text your girlfriends now.
2. Do Things Differently
There’s something about summer that makes us feel possible, like it’s the perfect time to become the kind of person who always has a pitcher of water infused with mint and cucumber in the fridge. We live more lightly, a tiny bit more experimentally. Why must this stop just because the calendar dictates? Decide that you’re not going to make the same weeknight dinners you do every year, or you’re not going to pack up the sundresses in favor of warm weather wear—a cardigan and tights can keep most of them in rotation well past the end Daylight Saving Time (2 a.m. on Sunday, November 1, but don’t think about that right now).
3. Get Up Earlier or Stay Up Later
This is tricky when the tyranny of the school-year schedule takes hold, but even if it’s just 10 minutes on either end, change your schedule a little so that you have some new, unfilled time when no one’s making demands on you. Even when summer is as chaotic as the rest of the year (if not more so), the change in routine and longer days makes our days feel more expansive, like there is a little more room for wonder. Maybe you’re doing the crossword, or reading, or taking a walk, or having a glass of rose. You might even be just sitting quietly and thinking about the day. Add a little time to the beginning or end of your day so things feel a little less crammed and impossible.
4. Stop talking about how fast it went.
It did go by fast! Way too fast, and you’ve every right to feel mournful! You’re already in the second week of school for crying out loud. But the group commiseration that happens around the end of summer can make vacation’s ending feel even more tragic. When your friend asks you if you’ve figured out your plans for Thanksgiving and it’s not even Labor Day, you can change the subject to something like how she should have you over for a barbecue this weekend—you’ll bring the citronella candles.
It’s possible you’re a winter person, and for you, the summer couldn’t end fast enough. If that’s the case, then your seasonal mourning won’t set in until some time in April. But for those of us who cling to summer like a toddler to a foam pool noodle, these tips will hopefully help make the transition a little less brutal. If you’re desperate, you can always lock yourself in the bathroom and watch Grease on your phone, but hopefully that kind of extreme measure won’t be necessary. For better or worse, the rest of the year goes pretty fast too.
P.S.: If you, like me, really cannot bear to part with summer, go immediately to the beauty department of your local department store and ask for a sample of Bobbi Brown’s Beach perfume. You’ll be smelling like piña coladas and boardwalk necking well past Christmas.