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“Remember when I used spray sunscreen at the beach and got splotchily sunburnt? I was so mad at you.”

A Dear John Letter to Summer Vacation

Summer Vacation

“Remember when I used spray sunscreen at the beach and got splotchily sunburnt? I was so mad at you.”

By Jill Phelan, St. Vincent College


My Dearest Summer,

I’m sorry to have to break this news to you, but this year, I have to leave you for other commitments.

You have to understand that I didn’t sign up for this kind of life—one full of hardship and heartache. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that trying to make our relationship work would be so hard and exhausting.

I feel as though recently we have drifted apart from each other, always existing in the same world but never really connecting like we once did. With every passing May, the space between us grows wider. Now, we are worse than we have ever been.

What happened to the pool parties and the road trips? I miss the days when you would warm my glistening skin as I laid on a towel in my backyard, soaking up rays of glorious sunshine while the sound of chirping birds filled the humid air.

But now my skin is pale and sweaty as I slave away in the unforgiving fluorescent indoors, taking peoples’ orders Sunday through Saturday at the restaurant.

To be honest, I feel like I lost you years ago (ever since high school graduation, actually), and quite frankly, we were bound to separate sooner or later—it was only a matter of time. In fact, I’ve known it all along, but I haven’t been able to admit it to myself until now that it’s too late.

I’ve since come to realize that it’s not you, it’s me. I’m the one who’s pushed you away, who’s slowly been moving on without you. I’m to blame for choosing appointments over high school reunion cookouts and abandoning bonfires for work.

But I can’t give up these responsibilities up for you, even though I wish with every fiber of my being that I could, because you mean so much more to me than any nine-to-five job, my sweet Summer.

Our timing just isn’t good. We’ve been running in different circles for far too long. As much as I wish I could go to the beach or bike through the neighborhood, I’m going to have an internship by day and a part-time serving gig by night—not to mention I need to try to start working on my senior project before the fall semester begins, if at all possible. We just keep missing our chances to be with each other.

It’s not fair to you that I keep stringing you along when I can’t be fully there for you. We both know that you deserve better, and I can’t provide anything more for you right now.

There’s no room for someone else in my life at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t care for you.

The truth is, I love you deeply. I love you more than Jimmy Fallon loves to bro out with Justin Timberlake—or more than Gordon Ramsey loves to emotionally abuse the contestants on “Hell’s Kitchen” and “MasterChef.”

Remember when I used spray sunscreen at the beach and got splotchily sunburnt? I was so mad at you. The backs of my knees hurt so badly that I winced every time I took a step forward.

But I couldn’t stay mad at you, Summer dear, especially for something that wasn’t even your fault. A little aloe vera and some shade and I was right back on the sand smelling the salty ocean air, remembering how wonderful it was to simply be able to relax without the weight of any responsibilities. I’m going to miss blissful moments with you like that.

The sad truth is that we just can’t be together right now. Please know that I’m ending this—ending us—for your sake, and all I really want is what’s best for you. You should be free to be with someone who really appreciates you and can give you the attention you deserve, like a procrastinating fifth grader. If you want commitment, there’s no one else who will drop all of his or her summer homework just to be with you like a middle schooler fresh off the bus.

Maybe in the future, our paths will cross again and we can have the relationship we’ve always wanted: a summer full of laughter, adventures, vacations and vanilla ice cream. But for now, this is how it has to be—no matter how much it pains me to leave you.

Until then, I will cherish the fleeting moments we’ve shared, and I vow to keep you in my heart forever. I will never forget sipping fresh-squeezed lemonade on the front porch or driving down the backroads beneath the starry midnight sky with the windows down.

Please don’t underestimate how much I have loved being with you. I appreciate everything you have done for me—like giving me the chance to see the waterfalls in the Poconos and receive a diamond ring from a special someone. I will never forget the unfailing gratitude you have shown toward me in our time together.

All I ask of you is remember me as I once was: a carefree girl with a desire to enjoy every second of the freedom you gave me, untethered from homework and a waitressing job.

I don’t want to say goodbye to you because I know deep down that I will be with you again if it is the last thing I do. We share an unbreakable bond, you and I, and I believe that connection is what will reunite us one day, hopefully in the near future.

I promise that I will come for you the way a heroic prince comes for his princess, or the way a basic white girl comes for her Starbucks. So instead of leaving you with a farewell, I will just say until next time, my darling.

All My Love,

A Broke, Overworked College Student

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