What to do when school’s out for the summer?

Completing my Masters marked several things in my life—another degree under my belt, countless of amazing lifelong friends, and confidence in my intended future career. On the other hand, it also meant I had to move out of the town I have called home for close to the past two years and move back in with my parents.

Granted, I am only living in Tennessee for a little over month, as I am in India for most of July before having to be in Maryland for my new job in the Fall. Regardless, I had to go through the slow, sad process of packing up the apartment I’ve called my own the entire time I’ve lived in Cape. While I’m extremely excited about embarking on my next journey in the Fall, I wasn’t ready just yet to leave my friends in Cape, or the town itself.

Cape is a typical Southern mid-sized city, providing a nice blend of chain stores, restaurants, a Wal-mart with a splash of local restaurants and antique shops. The university is pretty centrally located, surrounded by residential areas. The downtown provides the perfect mix of stores, restaurants, bars, and small-town charm, many of the buildings retaining their original integrity. Downtown clings to the Mississippi River, separated by a flood wall that is decorated with the history of Cape Girardeau and faces of notable people from the state of Missouri.

But to me, it was so much more. Moving to Cape was the first time I had moved not only somewhere on my own, but to an entirely new city altogether. When I arrived in Cape, I knew no one but my landlords and soon-to-be boss. Over the two years, I learned how to live by myself, which was one of the most valuable lessons I gained from Cape, along with a great education and great friends. In a nutshell, I loved the little town, for everything it provided.

I also love my home in Tennessee, but suddenly my old room is overwhelmed with belongings I spread out over four rooms in my apartment. My closet is probably one-third the size of my old one, forcing me to hang clothes in three closets. Most of my purses and boots are staying boxed up. All of my furniture and paintings are cramped into a 10 x 10 storage unit. On Sunday, I finally tackled the task of organizing my room so I wasn’t stepping over mounds of clothes to reach my bed.

But even greater than that, I suddenly had hours of free time on my hands and no idea what to do with it. Not even two weeks after graduation, I found myself getting antsy  because of all the hours I had left in the day with not much to fill them. During the school year, I had been used to scheduling my time, divvying up hours between my own school work, grading, friends time, and me time. I’m good at scheduling. I may not be able to keep my car clean, but I can accomplish many things in one day and still be in bed by midnight. So with nothing to schedule, I soon found myself in a bit of a weird funk.

Of course, all that seems a little bit wild. I know many people would kill for the free time I suddenly have on my hands, or the ability to literally do nothing for days at at time. At first, I tried to schedule my days the same way I did during the school year before I realized that was no way to live a summer. This could very well be my last chance where I have absolute control over my time and so I need to embrace the free time. Also, Rahul pointed out to me what a good place I’m in—I’ve just completed my Masters, I’m surrounded by my family on a daily basis, and I have vacation time. I have been reminding myself of these things in the past week, and also thinking of everything I could potentially do with this time—like visiting friends, working on my writing, reading, and countless of other things I didn’t have as much of a chance to do during the school year.

So even though I have no idea where my iPod chargers are, my clothes are so tightly packed together I almost can’t find anything, and I’m no longer living by myself, I have one month and eight days to enjoy days with no school work and no students constantly emailing me. That’s just enough time to enjoy a little bit (or lotta-bit) of downtime.

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