As the dog days approach

If you’ve even glanced through my posts, you may have noticed a pattern. I’m an avid reminiscer on the good ol’ days. It’s getting to be the prime time of year for those emotions, so here’s a short blurb on my love for the dog days of summer.

Fall is my favorite. Hands down. By far. I love it so, yet August and September never fail to smack me in the face with nostalgia.

Would you be shocked to know I’m a sucker for back-to-school season? Why? Beyond fact that I was a straight-A student from preschool to my senior year of college, I think it’s because it’s such a distinct time that happens every year for a big portion of your life. From age 5 to at least 17, the onset of August means one big thing: School is just around the corner. And while I loved summer vacation as much as the next person, I always found this time to be thrilling in its own way – a whirlwind of final summer activities and the excitement of a fresh start. I can’t be the only one with tons of memories associated with preparing for and adjusting to each new school year.

In elementary school, much like other kids, I would beg my mom for the trendiest school supplies. Glittery pencils, Lisa Frank notebooks, scented erasers. While my mom pulled 17¢ folders from the shelves, I’d sneak brightly-patterned binders and gel pens into the cart. I was a teacher’s pet, an avid reader, obsessed with art class. I can still smell elementary school classrooms: Slightly stuffy with a hint of pencil shavings and heavy notes of whatever disinfectant the custodians used on the table tops.

In middle school it was all about shopping for new clothes. Hours and hours spent at the mall trying to be fashionable (I really wasn’t) and budget-friendly for my mom’s sake (I definitely wasn’t). Back home I would immediately lay all my finds out on my bed and admire them. I’d then carefully select my first day outfit and neatly hang everything in my closet.

When high school hit, the priorities shifted noticeably. If I wasn’t catching the attention of boys, what really mattered? If I wasn’t included in the popular group, what was the point of anything? I can still feel the rush of getting a phone number and the “he likes you” rumors, the excitement of a party invite. Augusts and Septembers in high school are particularly ingrained in my mind because it was my most active season of the school year. I was involved in everything. Early mornings finishing homework assignments (whoops). Late evenings at Student Council meetings planning Fall’s pivotal event: the homecoming dance. Friday nights spent waving pom poms around in the light of the football stadium. Weekends spent at sleepovers or bonfires, sharing gossip and flirting with guys. What a time high school was, looking back. When bad moods meant end of the world, and good moods meant on top of the world.

Oh and college. The fall memories there. The first chance we get to truly be ourselves or reinvent ourselves. Being at OSU, on a large campus, there were new faces and places every day. I think back on meeting my freshman roommates for the first time, hunting for the cutest dorm furniture, crying when I said goodbye to my mom. I remember my first shotgunned beer, first blackout (sorry parents), first OSU football game. Every college autumn brought exciting firsts. I can still feel the oppressive August heat as I walked to my on-campus job for 5 am shifts. I remember joyfully moving into my first off-campus house, not knowing then that two of my roommates would become my worst enemies. I remember skipping the lines at sleazy campus bars and washing the Xs from the backs of my hands. From late nights at raging house parties to late nights studying for brand new classes and everything between, the dog days in college were a special time.

But my love for this season is not all rooted in back-to-school. I also simply love cool, breezy nights that become still, humid days. I love hearing the singing cicadas and watching fireflies dance. I think back fondly on county fairs and garage sales and last minute camping trips. Some of my best family memories took place during these months.

In August and September, when I feel the warmth of a setting sun or see it peaking across tree tops, I can instantly travel to a number of places and memories I hold close to my heart. I often catch a scent, a sound, or just a feeling that takes me back. Everything is a little more beautiful, a little more meaningful. It’s easier to cherish how you spend your time, as even fleeting moments seem to leave a bigger impression. I struggle to understand it fully, let alone put it into words.

But I guess if I had to sum it up to my best ability, I’d say this: In the dog days of summer, life moves fast and slow all at the same time. It’s something you don’t experience in the other months of the year. That’s why it’s special. That’s why I love it.

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