Summer Time is a collection of stories about Voice staffers’ experiences over summer break.
There’s nothing on the planet more consistent than my high school groups’ ability to talk about absolutely anything for hours. I went over to my friend Colin’s house in the evening, walking through the door around 8:30 p.m. As we sat down and started talking, the others drifted in. Tomasz waved hello and joined the conversation. Connor hung his magnificent ten-gallon hat on a nearby chair. Scott and Natalie began a casual debate about a television show. Trash was talked. Laughs were had. By the time I looked at the clock again, it was 2:00 a.m. and the conversation hadn’t skipped a beat.
Over the summer, this became routine. The group chat would buzz as we coordinated work schedules. Every so often, we would be able to meet and immediately the conversation would descend into the most glorious of tangents:
“Taco Bell’s nacho fries are dangerous.”
Our characterization of that limited-time side dish initiated more 11:00 p.m. carpools than I would care to admit. If one of us felt like going out and indulging in the dark abyss of fast food, then we would all gather into Scott’s Honda Pilot and bop to whatever CDs were available. Driving down New Britain avenue listening to Slint’s Spiderland (1991) or nerdily rapping along to Hamilton (2015) was an experience unlike any other.
“Have you guys heard of Pete Buttigieg?”
I asked the question in the lead up to the first Democratic debates at the end of June, and immediately a whirlwind of candidate preferences, policy debates, and high-quality memes filled the room. In the end, we collectively chose to gather for the second night of debates and have a viewing party. With chairs gathered around the television, popcorn prepared and distributed evenly among us, we watched it through to the end. Did it shift our preferences? Probably not. Did we enjoy it? Absolutely.
“Guys, you’ve gotta try the Hero in Super Smash Bros.”
As soon as Tomasz uttered that simple phrase, the competition kicked off. The Nintendo Switch was powered on, characters were chosen, and the match began. A more intense battle was never fought. The tournaments to follow were unrivaled in the pages of history. Though in the end no supreme victor was declared, the playwrights will undoubtedly write of our legendary clashes for centuries to come (…okay maybe not, but we had a good time playing Super Smash Brothers whenever we got together. It was pretty great.)
“Would you guys be down for some pick-up baseball?”
Colin’s question awakened long-forgotten memories of us competing in our town’s Little League baseball program in elementary school. I received my first pair of glasses partway through the third grade, long after I probably should have considering my poor vision. This meant that, for the years leading up to me getting glasses, I could not see the baseball until it was right up near my face. Remembering the ridiculousness of the whole affair, we laughed and decided to give the game another shot. As we learned during that mid-August pick-up game, my glasses only help so much.
“To Pimp a Butterfly is the best album I’ve ever heard.”
Scott’s assertion launched what would become one of the defining creations of our summer escapades: “The Album Club.” The concept was simple: Every week, one of us would select an album that they enjoy. Over the course of that week, we would all individually listen to it. Then, come the start of next week, we would meet back up, talk about it, and the next album would be selected. Though the initial rounds were hit-or-miss for me personally (I’ve had about as much System of a Down as I can handle), I can’t deny that I enjoyed myself every time we got together. Not only was it a blast, but it reaffirmed my belief: We really can talk about anything for hours.
And that’s the thing about this group. Our tangents, and all of the hometown summer escapades that come with them, may not be the most exhilarating. They certainly aren’t productive. But they’ve got that indescribable feeling about them. They lead to the kind of hijinx that only surface when you’re with the people you know best. And I wouldn’t trade them for the world.