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The Dartmouth
April 18, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Reflection: The Last Summer

Adrienne Murr ’25 reflects on her summer and youth, capturing her sentiments in a playlist.

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It was the last summer of youth. 

My hands smelt like the earth but sweeter; like roasted garlic and sun-ripened cherry tomatoes. For dinner, we grilled peaches and roasted salmon. I’m getting drunker now, but it’s a nice drunk, a smooth drunk. If you ask for my middle name, I’ll tell you: Adrienne Helene Murr.

It was the summer I ate massive amounts of ice cream without worrying about the calories. Devouring birthday cake kiddie cones and $8.75 banana splits. What the hell is grapenut soft serve and why is it incredible? It was the summer of bug bites and basil-fingers. Waking up with the sun and napping on the roof in the dappled evening light. It was folk music, taper candles, too tart lemonade, Kid Rock and ice-cold porch shandy. Seeking refuge from sporadic rainstorms in dimly lit frat basements. It was moonlit swims, nakedness, fried sage and aimless car rides. It was a scant dollop of yogurt on oven-fresh raspberry pie.

July tasted like makeshift dirty shirleys and sounded like Steve Miller Band. Sea salt potato chips sandwiched between peanut butter, raspberry jam and whole wheat sandwich bread. I played my music in the sun. It was the summer I swam like a child and moved like a child too: callused feet and chipped toenail polish, cloaked in red rubber rain boots and Birkenstock Bostons.

By the river, we exchanged songs and schemes. We traded swimming holes, summer recipes and sunscreen like silly bands. Intermittently slipping our bodies into the cool metallic of the Connecticut. We allowed the mosquitos to nibble on our weathered, sun-kissed skin. Hands, arms and legs. I’ve learned to live with the bugs, to lie passively on the grass as they dance across my thighs and inject me with their venom. Thirty more minutes in the soft, New Hampshire sun is worth the weal.

In my younger and pettier years, I longed to grow up. To ditch the Jansport backpack and carry a purse. To confidently order a drink at the bar, kiss a boy, drive a car, understand Hemmingway, navigate the airport and — oh, I don’t know — escape the passivity of parental supervision? I longed to walk through the world like one of those sexed-up teenagers I watched wreck their lives on soapy TV. 

More than anything, I longed to catch up to my older sister. Three years my senior, Madeleine always beat me to life’s firsts. As I sat idly in the sandbox, she swung from the monkey bars. When I was cast as an egg in the Nutcracker, she played the coveted role of “Party Girl.” I still wore 7-pack underwear when she lobbied our mom to drop her off at “Bath and Body Works” — conveniently located next to Victoria’s Secret, she was fooling no one. As I anxiously studied for the SAT, scantrons sprawled across the kitchen table, Madeleine marinated Sour Patch watermelons in Titos from the comfort of her scantily decorated college apartment. Still, I clung to the impossible prospect of “catching up” to her like a bedtime story.

We’re older now, and things are beginning to level off. Maybe the pandemic calibrated us, or maybe I’ve just aged up, restless and bearing the unique, all-knowing wisdom of girlhood and an “Intro to Lacan” class. I’ve reached that age where many of the classic “firsts” I romanticized as a kid are behind me. TSA no longer scares me, and hard liquor has long lost its allure. 

Sophomore summer marked a simultaneous first and last: a first summer outside of Marin — my hometown — and the final summer of my adolescence. It read like a poem, displacing me into an uncanny state of being, entirely separate from the tempo of regular life. It was the liminal no man’s land between childhood and adulthood. Next summer, I’ll probably (hopefully) bear the oppressive responsibilities of a big girl job in a big girl city. But, for now, on the Green, I can simply exist. 20 years young, tepidly completing childhood lasts and becoming the adult version of myself that I once desperately anticipated. 

In my younger and pettier years, I longed to grow up. Now, for the first time, I long to stay put. Because frankly, I’m unsure if it gets any better than this.