Written By: Danielle Silva Heckenkamp
It’s time for summer love, summer vacation, and summer adventures - to let loose without looking back. Who doesn’t want to have fun in the sun? We long for those brief summer months here in Wisconsin, no matter how brief they may last. As cold weather Midwesterners, we crave the sun and heat after several long months of winter, and of course, we are ridiculously jealous of our Southern friends. But for some reason, we keep coming back for more - how have we not learned yet? It’s about time to move to a warmer climate, right? Take me to Charleston! Maybe Midwesterners prefer this self-inflicted torture.
After months of intense dreariness, dark clouds, and dry winter temperatures dipping below zero, the thought of warm sun, beach sand, and not having to bundle up lifts our moodiness and brings a smile. Those foreboding winter months force many Wisconsinites to retreat into a warm house, sip hot chocolate, and read the latest issue of Vogue sitting before a roaring fire. This may sound enticing, but after several months, the monotony begins. Yes, those Instagram pictures are a bit overrated. Honestly, how much hot chocolate can one person drink?
Sometimes it’s difficult to believe we have four seasons in Wisconsin. Spring is only a slightly warmer version of winter. So we anxiously await those days of sun, when it doesn’t take an additional twenty minutes to leave the house because a mitten is lost, again. Those warm carefree days when we can spend any extra moment with friends, family, and working on our slightly embarrassing Northern tan. Yes, we aren’t as austere as some may claim, we can laugh at ourselves. It’s that one time of year, no matter where we live in this beautiful country of ours, that we can have fun and enjoy life. Summer gives us an excuse for a vacation, for making family memories, a time when we no longer focus solely on working, but on enjoying the simple pleasures of life.
Summer is that amazing time when the beach welcomes us no matter how cool the water may feel, a blended strawberry daiquiri tastes much better while lounging next to a pool, and a pair of sandals become a wardrobe staple. It’s the heat, the sweat, and the sunshine that somehow have us wanting more, the months are just too short. Maybe it’s because living in Wisconsin brings too many months of winter and not enough months of summer love. Everyone loves the freshness of spring and the anticipation of warm weather to come, but summer brings something extra special. Summer brings a place for new beginnings, a time for creating lasting memories, unlike any we have previously experienced. The summer months have provided some amazing, out of this world exploits. The type of memories that mold us into the people we are or who are about to become - similar to a true friend. Summer is a good lasting friendship. It forces us to take a step out of the norm, and enjoy this unknown world.
Friendship and summer have much more in common than anyone could imagine. The type of friendship we search for our entire lives, but oftentimes never find. We may have plenty of acquaintances, and even a few people we feel confident enough to share some of our deepest secrets. But finding that true everlasting friend, is like finding a needle in the haystack. Summer is full of confidence, unforgettable moments, adventures, and with an intense desire to indulge. It doesn’t matter how long one is parted from a true friend, the strong bond will return. Summer gives us promises of acceptance and forgiveness - those overwhelming hot days are cooled off by an intense evening thunderstorm.
There have been many great summers in my life, ones that involved goofy high school friends, others that included many late night college parties, but one of the best was shared with a good friend, actually a “best friend”. I have always felt a bit silly saying “best friend” since the term was used so freely in grade school, but maybe it’s also a bit odd because once we reach adulthood, a “best friend” is almost impossible to find. Luckily, I have been blessed with such a gift!
This “best friend” knows when to give a hug, when to make me laugh so hard I’m crying, and even though she may know my flaws, for some reason, she still chooses to overlook them. But friendship isn’t a one-way street. It involves a commitment, a lack of self-interest, with the desire to be a part of this person’s life through thick and thin. Just like the season of summer. After months of struggling through the doldrums of winter, the summer sun shines through those gloomy clouds, and all is well. But if we don’t take a moment to enjoy the sun and venture outside, it is only another day. Everyone needs a best friend, especially women. We go through life judging ourselves, looking at every minute detail in the hopes of reaching ridiculous expectations. We are often the hardest on ourselves and this is where a best friend steps in, she knows when it is just too much and calms the storm.
The season of summer may bring the expectations of swimsuit weather and all that comes with it, but it also gives us a reprieve from the storm - the winter storm. Somehow, just when we think it’s too much to live through another cloudy day, the summer sun finds its way through the clouds to lift our spirits. As my “best friend” often says, “When tough times come, you will find your true friends.”