What do you wanna do?
I don’t know - what do you wanna do? Welcome to the summertime blues. And it’s only June.
On the first day of summer vacation, Grecia Aybar opened the front door, stared out at the sodden lawn, and groaned. Carter Schultz shuffled downstairs to do his laundry. Tess Broll played a board game with friends on the couch.
This stinks, Grecia said.
Monday, the rain came in torrents. Tuesday, it darkened the pavement and lacquered the street. Wednesday, it left a dense mist and a gray, sullen sky.
This weather is making me angry, Carter said.
As schools let out all around Boston, morale was low. The first days of summer, those sprawling June afternoons usually filled with sun and pools and picnics, were spent indoors. Flip-flops lay neglected. Bathing suits lingered in drawers.
This doesnt feel like summer, Tess sighed.
AGE 14, LOWELL
Summer means no rules, said Grecia Aybar. It means you don’t need to go to bed early. You don’t need to do anything.
But on Monday, her first weekday without classes, she wished she had something to do. “If it wasn’t raining, I could walk to Dunkin’ Donuts and get a bagel,’’ she said, peering into the fridge. “I could walk around downtown. I could go to my friend’s house. It seems like summer’s never going to get here.’’
For Grecia, who goes by the nickname Lela, the first day of vacation was bittersweet for several reasons. She’d graduated from her beloved E.N. Rogers Middle School on Friday. She was heading off to the vast, unfamiliar world of Lowell High School in the fall. And to top it all off, E.N. Rogers had announced that it was closing for good because of budget cuts.
“On the last day of school, everyone was crying,’’ Grecia said. “We can’t go back and visit our teachers, ’cause they’ll be gone. I’m going to miss seeing all my friends every day.’’
As thunder growled overhead, she slipped on fuzzy black bedroom slippers and collapsed on the sofa to watch “CSI: Miami.’’ Then she called her friend Bruna. “Yo girl. What you up to?’’ A pause. An exasperated eye-roll. “You still sleepin’? Man.’’
She texted her friend Emily. “Yo loser, come over.’’ The reply: “How am I supposed to get there?’’ Grecia scowled.
She IMed her friend Sara. “Yooo man, you should wake up and come over my house.’’ But Sara had to help her aunt with wedding plans. Grecia shook her head. Then she stood up and looked outside. The backyard was a big, swampy mess. A bicycle leaned in the corner, the pink fringe on its handlebars turned soggy and dull. Hula hoops swirled in puddles.
“This is why I’d rather have school,’’ Grecia said. “Then, even if it rains, you don’t have to be stuck at home.’’
AGE 15, WAYLAND
Summer means swimming in Cochituate Lake, said Carter Schultz. It means skateboarding around the neighborhood. Hanging with friends by the pool.
Tuesday was the last day of Carter’s sophomore year at Wayland High School, and Wednesday should have been sunny and carefree. Instead he woke up to a slow drizzle outside his window. He looked around his bedroom; the floor was a tangle of dirty T-shirts and wilted gym socks.
“I have a party tonight, and I need some fresh jeans,’’ he said. “So I guess I’ll do some laundry.’’
Then Carter headed to the kitchen, where his brother Alex, 22, was reading the newspaper. Alex ate a yogurt. Carter shifted his weight from foot to foot. His band, Moken Airwalk, was scheduled to practice at 3 p.m. “Moken’’ was the name of a Polynesian tribe that Carter had learned about in school. “They don’t have a word for ‘time’ or ‘commitment,’ ’’ he said. “They just kinda chill.’’
“Do you wanna go to what’s-it-called soon?’’ Carter asked.
“Up to you, man,’’ Alex said.
“What’s-it-called’’ turned out to be Mel’s Commonwealth Cafe, a nearby restaurant where Carter had worked for the past few summers. The brothers ordered scrambled-egg-and-cheese sandwiches. They talked about Costa Rica, where Carter would be spending the fall semester of his junior year. They discussed what Carter needed to buy at the mall. They chatted with the waitresses.
Around lunchtime, Moken Airwalk’s bassist called. He couldn’t come to practice. He was running errands with his mom. Carter snapped his phone shut and exhaled.
“Well, this is an unsuccessful first day of summer,’’ he said. “But it can only get better from here, right?’’
AGE 11, BYFIELD
Summer means no homework, said Tess Broll. No tests. No report cards. Sleepovers on weeknights.
Tess finished fifth grade at Newbury Elementary School on Monday. That night, her two best friends, Ali Dunfee, 12, and Juliet Moore, 11, slept over at Tess’s house. They watched movies. They sprayed tendrils of their hair pink with temporary dye. The girls had big plans for Tuesday morning. They would plan costumes for a show they were putting on later in the summer. Then they’d head outside and play in the backyard. But as storm clouds churned, they sat in Tess’s living room with a board game, their neon pink scalps leaving bright smudges on the sofa.
“Maybe tonight we’ll go hermit crab hunting in Lynch Park and pack a picnic,’’ Tess offered.
“It’s not picnic weather, honey,’’ said her mother, Sharon. “It’s too wet.’’
By early afternoon, the rain finally slowed. Tess, Ali, and Juliet pulled on sweatshirts, galoshes, and baseball caps. They traipsed outside as Tess’s dog Bella watched forlornly from the deck. The yard was lush and humid, teeming with dewy leaves.
Tess explained the game they would play. It was called “Survivor,’’ after the TV show. The first challenge: to run through the garden, then in a circle around the yard, grabbing a different herb every time. She swept her hand across the backyard with a ringmaster’s flourish. First person to pluck sprouts from every plant wins.
“On your mark, get set, go!’’
The girls sprinted off with fistfuls of dill and mint. “We should be wearing bathing suits, not sweatshirts,’’ Tess shouted as she sloshed through a mud patch. “But otherwise, this is what we do every summer!’’
Then they sank to the grass, breathless and giddy, grinning up into the rain.
Laura Bennett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.