We’re going to kick this blog entry off with a fun little exercise. (Calm down– if you’re anything like me, you panic at the word “exercise;” never fear, this exercise is one for the right brain, so no sweating will ensue, unless utilizing your brain causes you physical exhaustion, in which case I urge you to stop reading this blog and pick up some other piece of literature that will aid you in toning your intellectual muscles, not hinder it.)
Now, just consider the phrase I am about to offer you in bold print; no pressure, just think about whatever comes to mind, allow the associations to flow and the connotations to abound: spring break.
I’ll give you a minute to mull that over.
Okay I’m getting impatient and you’re taking too long. Press “Pause” if you need more time.
I’m going to make a guess at what came to mind: a week’s worth of alcohol, college students, beaches, swimsuits, partying, palm trees, sand, total reckless abandon, hangovers, run-ins with the law, drug abuse, hookups with strangers, Florida probably, friends, tans, sunburns, pictures, pictures, pictures.
When we think of spring break, we have this glorified idea of hot beaches and constant alcohol consumption. I mean, we’ve spent the entire first three months of the year in winter’s cold clutches, so spring break is supposed to be a week-long refuge from/reward for enduring the cold Ohio weather (or, you know, the warm Ohio weather, or the rainy Ohio weather, or the snowy Ohio weather–fill in the blank for whatever weather condition applies to the current moment). And classes! Spring break is for the college kids, who have just suffered the first series of anxiety attacks for the semester, and are excitedly procrastinating–I mean relaxing–during spring break so that they can be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for their second series of anxiety attacks before the semester ends.
We think of hot girls girls girls in bikinis swimsuits bathing suits taking shots on Florida beaches, dude bros chugging beer and serving no purpose other than to fulfill a stereotype while littering the beaches with their crushed cans. We think of intoxicated adventures, crowded raves with glow-in-the-dark accessories, trying all the wild things we would never ever ever do at home (although maybe we would… or have done already) and it’s all okay under the pretense of “spring break!” Running from the cops, experimenting with drugs, and worst of all, careless abandon of sunscreen application! Oh, all the tan and sunburnt casualties, haphazardly exposing their flesh to the sun’s harmful rays–but this is spring break, so being so foolish to not use sunscreen is somehow permissible, understandable.
Well, folks, I don’t know if you’ve ever had a spring break before but that’s not how it usually goes.
Allow me to realign your expectations:
Spring break is more like Netflix, sleep, blankets, Pizza Hut, work, and social media.
From my experience, the average college kid either visits their parents’ house or works throughout spring break. Those “crazy, wild, late nights” are the nights where you need to be awake at 8 AM for your job but that Netflix show you’ve been binging on for five hours keeps you up until 2 AM. The “reckless abandon” you practice is the reckless abandon of listening to your brain say “PLEASE STOP EATING” and your stomach say “SERIOUSLY I AM IN AGREEMENT WITH THE BRAIN THIS TIME,” but where you keep on stuffing those pieces of pizza down your gullet like the proud glutton you are until you throw up– not quite a hangover, but a pizza-over, if you will. And you’re not tan at spring break’s end, but actually more pale, in case you didn’t think it was possible to be even whiter than you already were, as you scroll through Facebook and Instagram spitefully “liking” everyone else’s glamorous spring break photos (because even though only a handful of people actually go anywhere, it feels like everyone you know is on vacation).
And you usually end up spending it alone, or in slight company, because even though not many people get the typical spring break experience, it’s always the one person you want to hang out with who ditches you for something cooler and more exotic for a week. But there’s no class, so you don’t have anything else to do. “Fine, cat, you finally have me all to yourself. Purr your heart out.”
On top of that, if you’re really lucky, you’re sick, too. It’s that perfect time of year where the temperature is changing and so all the bacteria or viruses or whatever makes you feel awful are floating around happily, waiting to infect you, and also allergies start to bloom again, so you’re probably sick. How convenient! A week off of classes so that you can recover from your malady! And honestly the weather’s probably shit, too; it was probably warm and sunny the week before, but spring break is probably cold and snowy or rainy, followed right after by months and months of perfect 70-degree sunny weather. Like a cruel joke to rub it in your sneezing face.
And that’s spring break for you, uncensored, and as told by a ginger.
So then, the follow-up question to this whole cynical commentary, this brutally realistic peek into spring break, this blunt account, is to ask me, “So what did you do on your spring break?”
To which I will flash you a knowing smirk and a cunning glance before politely declining to answer the question at all.