Explore the Nostalgic Power of Summer

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I. We Long for the Moment Too Long
To long for anything—especially the past—can trigger any number of physical and emotional reactions. The pulse can quicken, the sweat can bead, the tears can well. I recently heard Andrew Cedermark’s song “Canis Major” for the first time last week and was immediately taken back to the early 2000s, driving in the car with myself, cruising down the smooth and quiet Lake Erie coastline. This song that I have never heard before and that was written within the last year sounded like my 1995 maroon Saturn I sold a decade ago. My brain showed me the angles of suburban architecture, big summer clouds and serotonin. In that moment I missed old moments, parts of myself that once existed, parts that I’ve grown out of, parts I’ll never get back no matter how much I attempt to recreate them. I’ve been home now for the week in Buffalo and conscious effort to make these types of memories again feel contrived. Nostalgia can be activated at any moment when you’re living in real time and that switch is flipped. You find yourself taken back and chances are you don’t want to leave.

We long for the moment to long and popular culture has caught on. Whether there’s a product to be sold or the mission is to connect, we are presented with the bait of summer nostalgia virtually everyday in one form or another. We bite. We bite hard. We bite gladly.

II. Water as a Metaphor 
Kings of Leon single “Supersoaker” is a recent example of an attempt at a solid tug on our memory strings. The perfect title of reminiscence for that way back summer of Generation X and their younger Y siblings darting around the yard, ducking behind bushes, and targeting whomever they could with their water gun. A modern-day icon, the Super Soaker (Trademark Nerf) represents youthful antics, and although I dislike Kings of Leon with a genuine passion, the title piques my interest. I even hear what sounds like a glockenspiel twinkling throughout this tune, which is let’s be honest, a kid’s toy!

While the Super Soaker is relatively contemporary, nothing can evoke the tradition of summer youth like the image of an open fire hydrant on a sweltering day. The hydrants themselves appear difficult to open, perhaps only the strongest man on the street with the biggest wrench could manage such a task. But once it’s complete, the entire neighborhood of children is free to partake, relieving their bodies of the heat and drenching them with cold water from an unknown source. Known famously in metropolitan settings, it is not uncommon for an open hydrant to appear in suburbia, monitored viciously by a Mommy Blogger.

Holding a popsicle over my front lawn.

III. The Cure for Your Listlessness 
The heat can get you down, like way down, to the point where even a shot of the mall’s AC cannot wake you up. Good thing we have Buzzfeed. The website gives its reader a glimpse into the “viral web in realtime.” If you don’t read at least one Buzzfeed article per day it means you’re not on Facebook. And if you’re not on Facebook, well then you might as well be dead. OMG two sentences ago I referred to the “article” you “read” on Buzzfeed and I’d like to amend that statement. Buzzfeed is Cliff’s Notes for Cliff’s Notes, made up of mostly lists and gifs, many of which call back to a simpler time in all the lives of '80s/'90s kiddos. And far be it for me to complain about a list. Try on titles:


15 Summer Jams You May Have Forgotten

31 Photos of New York City in the Summer of ’69

14 Things You Always Say You’ll Do at the Beginning of Every Summer

33 Super Cool Popsicles to Make This Summer

It’s a simple formula really, slip a number in at the beginning, use the word “summer” and make up the rest of the title. For instance: 45 Ways to Turn Your Pool Party into a Cool Party.

Roger Federer at Wimbledon, 2009/Wikimedia Commons

IV. Televised Tennis
I grew up in a household of tennis. My father stills plays and he’s getting up there in age. Even my boyfriend is a 4.5 ranking! I took lessons when I was young, maybe for like 2 years but found my interest leaned more on the gymnastics side of sports than the tennis side. One thing is for certain though, three Grand Slams act as mile markers for summer. In May/June we head to Paris for the French Open, a beautiful place to welcome the warming weather. In June/July we find ourselves in London for Wimbledon, right in the thick of it, players tossing their bodies around on fresh cut grass courts. And finally, in August/September, we end up at the US Open in Flushing, New York. What better a way to bid farewell to a sporty season than in New York City, where the summers are relentless. Like clockwork, these three Grand Slams come and go and narrate the time. And it’s all televised! Whether or not you're even a sports fan, you’ll catch a glimpse of these tournaments on network television, you’ll see the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, and you’ll think: Wow, they must be so hot. It’s true, they are hot, because it’s summer, and we’re all just trying to stay cool out here.