Not to perpetuate a stereotype or anything, but summers growing up in Southern California were amazing. With the ocean a quick drive away and warm nights in Los Angeles, there was always a wealth of fun, carpe diem-y things to do. Summer was a sparkler – bright, ardent, and fading fast.
But when I set out to create a summer bucket list this year, I was acutely aware of how different the summer after college is: For the first time in my life, summer is not delimited by the cycle of an academic year; I’m living in an entirely new place, probably indefinitely. Everything is new and exciting, but nobody knows me.
So this year, I crafted my Summer Bucket List not merely with enjoyment or indulgence in mind. This summer, I want to concretize the moments and places that will help me, little by little, define home.
Let me explain: I never knew what I held dear about my childhood hometown until I left for college 3,000 miles away. When I returned for winter break, I desperately needed to go to the public library, the beach, and In-N-Out. Belatedly, I realized these places, like my family, had become embedded into what I love and who I am. They’re where I turn for comfort and a grounded sense of self.
So every time I’ve lived in a new place throughout undergrad, I’ve tried to seek out the home things – the small places that make me feel less like an itinerant and more like somebody who belongs. (Paris: A scifi fandom-themed bar. New York: In the Natural History Museum, sitting directly underneath the Blue Whale, looking up.)
So with the vast undertaking of finding out how I belong in a bright, new city, I took more care in crafting this year’s list. My Bay Area Summer Bucket List is a healthy mix of traditional summer pursuits, tourist exploits, and Just Me stuff. The latter includes the activities that make me feel most like myself – but in a new place that will, hopefully, grow more familiar by the day.
Importantly, the list leaves room for discovery. I can’t anticipate everything I’ll come to cherish. How, exactly, the Bay Area will leave its imprint in my life – come September and beyond – remains an exciting, inviting mystery.
So, what’s on your summer bucket list? What are the things, big and small, that make you feel like home?