Every time a summer commercial comes on, my mind goes off on a tangent, picturing what it would be like to go off to the beach with my friends, a brightly colored plastic beach bag containing all the expected beach supplies. The sound of sunscreen and water bottles clanging together, wiping off sand from my ankles every time I run over to the docks to buy another lemonade. Swimming in the ocean and feeling the salt bite my nose and eyes as it envelops my head, draining into my ears and causing me to hear the water’s heartbeat and breathing all at once.
That’s the summer I’ve always seen in movies and read in books. The summers I experience don’t include much sand, sun, or salt. They always take place inside, in theaters, studios, and small rooms painted matte black. This used to tug at my heart when I was younger, slightly pushing my longing too far. Holding onto the dream of a seashore shack and seaweed covered loam. But as time goes on, and I acquire more years of life, I now want to kick my younger self for not being grateful while I could’ve been. Every summer since seventh grade, I’ve done an intensive, program, or ventured off to a sleepaway camp, I now realize how much each experience has shaped me:
Seventh Grade summer into Eighth Grade:
Sleepaway camp and red wood. Unfamiliarity and learning to grow comfortable. A theater camp in which learning to sing and dance to Musical Theater was a must. The first couple steps leading into into the life of performance.
Eighth Grade into Freshman Year:
A small studio in downtown Manhattan. Every morning greeted by bustling crowds and uneven skylines. The smell of meat and the vibrancy of the bodegas clouding all other senses. A long staircase up to the room we would learn in. Repetition of monologues, makeshift sets, and many granola bars.
Freshman Year into Sophomore Year:
Another studio, this time in Times Square. A couple familiar faces, Shakespearean words bouncing off the walls. Plaster masks squishing our noses, and the black ground flat and cool. Every step shuddering a resounding sigh into the air, we must learn to control every inch of our bodies, this was after all, a physical theater intensive. We must glue together the words and gestures with every beat of our heart.
Sophomore Year into Junior Year:
A different continent, jittery plane rides. Colors look different on this side of the world. We meet again, Bard. The wood smells stronger than the grass that surrounds every inch of this ancient university. People’s thoughts are louder than their voices, after all inspiration remains in the head. Once again, practicing the meticulous task of attaching every syllable to every swing of our arms, and every step of our feet. The longer we stay in this place the longer we forget our worldly responsibilities. Our hair is freer, so is our skin, and our clothes loosen with each passing day. We’ve sectioned out a piece of England, making it ours forever, even if our feet no longer make contact with the earth of that country.
Junior Year into Senior Year:
A change of heart, no, rather, an expansion of the heart. Every acting lesson stays firmly planted inside my skull while shifting only slightly to make room for the tactile rather than theoretical. Steel, silver, subway rides. Sweat in the air, hair tightly wound in a ponytail. Cheeks flushed looking around, this heat stays attached to the ceiling breathing down our necks. Every day at 9:00am and 4:00 pm the subway is my friend. In between that time, I become acquainted with the Cooper union buildings. One is large, noble and the carob colored headquarters. The other is riskier, a nolita structure, almost falling over itself. The place I go to draw with compressed charcoal and rough paper, a place that welcomed me into a different world and helped me find a place in it.
Senior Year into College: