I awake late one Saturday morning with a heavy head, slightly hung over and having missed a long run with my running group. I reach for my phone and tilt my head in curiosity at what looks like a spider stuck to the screen. I recognize it as one of my false eyelashes from the night before just as I see the parking ticket on my coffee table. Right. I got a ticket before the night even started, while getting cash at the ATM of all places, the rest of the night I Ubered. Reaching up to peel the remaining false lash away from my other eyelid, I shake my head at the memory of the previous night of flirting with random girls, dancing, cramming into a cab for a secondary drinking location, and walking. Had I really walked from Hillcrest to University Heights in heels? I look down at my feet. Yes. Yes I had. As I make my way to the kitchen for coffee, I realize I am way too old for this nonsense. The consequences of living a bit out of character, like there are no consequences, for the past few months have made themselves visible on my hips, my skin, and in exceeding my text messages limit. Still, I giggle to myself as I dump spoonfuls of coffee into the coffee maker at the realization that I was having a wild summer.
Disappointed by a series of life events that didn’t turn out the way I wanted and heartbroken after my long term relationship ended, I threw aside the serial monogamist, goody two-shoes girl for one crazy, adventurous, overdue summer. I wrote about my first night out in a decade as a single girl in a piece I presented at Lez Writes. What followed was a series of weekends, squeezed in between business as usual workweeks and workouts. Among the highlights of the summer were a night that ended with 6 gay men in a hot tub, knocked over martinis, and making out with a friend, meeting a woman I randomly met in a bookstore for a 6 hour hike that turns out to be the most beautiful hiking I’ve done to this day, sneaking into a club with a line down the street behind a celebrity, pretending I was with her posse, staying out too late, drinking too much, buying too many rounds of drinks, getting a tattoo, and telling a girl I met at a pool party that I wanted to make out with her. Ey yi yi.
I thought that summer was about losing control within parameters. But the truth is, I was trying to take back some control that I felt had been lost somewhere along the way. I made 3 promises as I embarked on my wildness that summer: 1) I would never drive when it was questionable if I should 2) I would be honest with the girls I dated and 3) I would let go and live a little but within my boundaries (no chemicals, no stranger danger, no unsafe or illegal behavior). You’d be surprised all the chaos that still fits within those parameters.
When the wild summer came to its inevitable end, I was ready to be the boring, Netflix-watching, professional chic I know myself to be. In the process, though, I learned some things about wild summers that I share here. If you’re considering letting your hair down, losing track of time and responsibilities here are some tidbits of advice for the makings of a wild season.
- Walk or Uber everywhere. I was fortunate to live in a neighborhood that was within walking distance of almost everything, but still I wound up with an assortment of parking tickets, walking back for my car in the mornings, and getting towed once. I made the right decision every time not to drive, but it was an expensive misstep to park in the wrong parking lot.
- Date outside your community. I traveled a lot that summer, but I also made out with many women in my community. I still run into these women and it’s incredibly awkward, even though I thought there was a mutual understanding about not getting into a relationship. Because I wasn’t really being myself, I still feel like an ass about it.
- Be honest. And then be honest again. My friends assured me that as long as I was honest with the women I dated about not wanting to settle down that I was in the clear. Still, my conscious tugged at me, especially when I sensed that one of us was getting confused. I learned that when in doubt, it’s better to say too much than not enough.
- Check in. After a few months of weekend partying, flirting, and making out, I realized that some of the decisions I was making didn’t make me feel very good about myself. When I look back on that time, not only do I have my friends to remind me of my decisions (like every other time I see them), but I realize that my wild summer took a turn towards self-anger at times. It is clear to me now that I didn’t like myself very much at the time. After checking in with myself on my choices and my feelings about them, I knew it was time to stop.
- Be yourself. I realized that part of my need for the wild summer at all was that I didn’t have typical college or post college years in my 20s. I also realized that I could never go back and be in my 20s again and acknowledged that at a certain point, it crosses the pathetic line when a 40-something chic is bounding around clubs making out with girls. At some point, I just didn’t want to be that
The worst thing about my wild summer? It’s a little embarrassing – fluttering around, acting a fool like I did. But the best thing about having a wild summer is that even though I still go out occasionally, I no longer feel like I’m missing out on something when I’m staying in, working out, wearing sweats, and playing with my cats. The secret best thing? I did in fact, take control back, and then realized I hadn’t really lost it in the first place. It was just hiding for awhile under a broken heart and a stack of expectations about who I was supposed to be. Probably where the stack of parking tickets eventually sat.