In early March, I was offered a job at a summer journalism program in Washington, D.C. By the end of March, that program was canceled. That program had become a highlight of my summers; I started off as a student there in 2018, was hired as an intern the following summer, and spent the past year looking forward to going back this year. Now, so many of these summer staples — birthdays, vacations, concerts, lake days and sports, to name a few — are either in jeopardy or already off the table.
Obviously, this summer won’t be quite like I pictured it a few months ago. Outside of my job, I was looking forward to spending days outside with my friends, going out of the country for the first time, showing off all the summer clothes I got on sale during the winter, and emptying my bank account on concert tickets. With those things out of the picture, I wasn’t sure what else to do other than sleep, binge watch, and make whipped coffee. The easy thing to do would be to accept the next few months as a lost summer and wait for things to return to normal.
But rather than waiting for the old normal to come back, I’ve decided to own the new normal we’re living in.
Maybe I can’t meet up with my friends and play basketball, but we can virtually get together on NBA 2K and play there (actually, the fantasy world where we’re all 6’7” NBA players can be more exciting than real life). While I won’t get to see Thomas Rhett or go to Forecastle, virtual concerts have given me all the music I need without having to buy a ticket. My biggest recommendation for any country music fan is to check out my new go-to Saturday night activity, the Grand Ole Opry live streams. Most of all, I’ve tried to take a step back from all of the chaos going on to appreciate that, while I may not be able to do everything I was hoping for, the time I’m getting to relax with my family is as valuable as any other experience I could’ve had this summer.
Indiana, my home state, has a plan to return to a version of normalcy by early July. Kentucky, my second home, has a similar plan. The time will come where a pandemic doesn’t dictate our lives. The summers we love will return. There’s no reason to wait for that time, though. With a little creativity and flexibility, we can still make all the memories we were hoping for this summer, maybe just in a different way.