In the throes of summer

The beginning of summer is always the best part in my opinion. It’s when everything is fresh and new, you feel the instant release of shirking off your school work, and the heat has yet to become unbearable. I’ll be spending all day in the pool and thinking nothing of it at the beginning of summer, but by the end of the summer the novelty and thrill of the nothingness will have worn off. 

Guess who

Most of the time when people speak fondly about summertime it’s usually because they invariably spent it in some chic place like Malibu or the Hamptons, two places that do seem nice from the pictures, but are nonetheless miles away from where I spend my summers.

I’m back in Valdosta for the summer where I’ll be spending the foreseeable future in my parents’ house. Although I will miss New York, and all of the friends that make it special, there are several things that I’m looking forward to.

I’m looking forward to my mom’s cooking, my pool, my favorite local restaurants, getting a job, doing some painting, and doing a bit of shopping. My immediate plan was to have a classic American summer by swimming in my pool, eating ice cream, soaking up sun, and giving into every hedonistic whim. I wasted no time doing just that. 

I’ve been riding around town in my Jeep with my windows down, blaring the radio. “American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz came on and in that moment, one truly feels like the quintessence of an American woman. 

On my first full day, I leapt into the pool and after a refreshing dip, I leapt straight into a steaming hot bath. Having been on campus, I hadn’t seen a bathtub in several months, but, rest assured, I didn’t go too overboard with it. I just used some lavender, rose pedals, bath elixir, bath salts, two bath bombs, some other bath salt, and hot water up to my chin. Then, I sat in it for over an hour. I left the tub, smelling zesty, and watched “Crazy Rich Asians,” for maybe the fourth time. 

Later that night, we had fried zucchini mixed into our parmesan and pasta, as taught to my mother by Stanley Tucci. An old friend of my father’s, who also happens to be a film mentor of my brother’s, made the trip with his wife to see us and we ate the whole thing outside in our backyard.

The next night, after burgers and tater tots for dinner, I had Rocky Road ice cream and actually watched the gorgeous Stanley Tucci CNN documentary: Searching for Italy, and after two years of Italian, I’m pissed that Stanley Tucci found Italy before I did.

Since I’ll be getting a job this summer, I wanted to spend the first few weeks doing all of the carefree things one does before they have to seek out employment. I’ve been waking up at noon, swimming, reading poolside, taking long baths, and dancing around my pool in my swimsuit. I listened to early 2000s pop music, made by sassy women, such as Britney Spears, Nelly Furtado, Gwen Stefani, Fergie, and Destiny’s Child, just to name a few. 

One of the first orders of business of being home was getting my mom a Mother’s Day gift. Being up in New York on Mother’s Day, I couldn’t join her for the actual day, but I intended to make up for that by getting her something she would love once I was down here. I surprised her with an all-black Kate Spade purse, a la Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson from the TV show “The Closer.” (She wanted me to be sure to add that). A powerful purse for a powerful woman. There also was a vase of carnations. 

It’s a small reward for being pretty great.

Then there was the small business of getting my second dose of Moderna. Just like before, the shot was a small prick, followed by the mild inconvenience of fever, chills, an overly-sore arm, nausea, and fatigue that passed within a day. When asked how I was feeling, I told a friend that I wasn’t ready to run a marathon, which meant that I was back to normal.

My family celebrated my full-vaccination by going downtown to Giulio’s and naturally, I dressed for the occasion. I was wearing a black baby doll dress and a new pair of black heart earrings that I’d just bought in Athens. I hadn’t worn this dress in a while, having only just been reunited with it in my closet, which was why I was blithely unaware of the fact that the thin black material was completely see-through. So, I waddled around with a jacket wrapped around my waist, hoping that no one was staring directly at my underwear.

Two days later, for lunch Bobby and Mikaela and I went to Ming’s, a place we’d never been to before but came highly recommended from my best friend over the years. We get there, only to realize that they’re takeout and cash only. Expecting to use our cards, we were forced to scrape together enough cash to pay for our shared to-go order.

Here’s how it broke down:

I had a dollar

Mikaela had a dollar

Bobby had 17 dollars

Guess who paid for most of it.

We sat there waiting for our food and complaining amongst ourselves, after which we spent some time downtown. I don’t think that this is the place that Petula Clark was singing about, but I love a good downtown area. A chai latte from Gud coffee, some hummus and shawarma from Mo’s Mediterranean, and stuffed grape leaves from Giulio’s are the types of things that I go downtown for. 

A chai latte from Gud with some Nutella toast

I went to the theatre with my mom, like much of the world, to watch “Cruella,” since it is a devilishly funny, fast-paced, and resplendent female anti-hero film with high-fashion and a phenomenal soundtrack. 

So, I know that I said I’d be spending the foreseeable future in Valdosta, but now that the beginning of summer is behind me, I’m actually going up to Boston for a family thing.

Peace out Valdosta! I have a graduation to go to.

See you when I get back.

The Tragic Queen,

Raquel

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