From late August to May, GW students are dragged along by the constant motion of their schedules. Downtime is an anomaly, and a few quiet minutes alone are a celebrated respite – if only for a moment. Campus is loud. Whole Foods is always crowded.
Then something happens: students go home.
And those who are left? They develop a silent understanding that summer on and around campus has a dual purpose: partying and laying low, a mixture not often found during the academic year but that somehow comes together for three hot, muggy months.
While of course most who stay for the summer answer to a nine-to-five job, there is no late-night visit to Gelman needed, no 6 a.m. wake-up calls to finish the last three pages of a paper. With all of that free time, students somehow become people. That’s right, humans who make choices based on what they want rather than what they have time to do.
Some take the antisocial route. These people make the student population left on campus seem even smaller as they go to work, come home from work and there they stay, reading books or rewatching every episode of “Game of Thrones.” If these students stay quiet enough, the people they know who are left on campus regularly forget that their friend-turned-hermit stayed in D.C. for the summer at all.
When their friends do remember them, the hermits turn down U Street outings or jazz in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden under the guise that they’re “resting up” for the fall semester.
For every hermit, though, there is a student who sees summer as an extended weekend. No homework? Drink a beer. Home from work by 5:05 p.m.? Drink a beer. No chapter? Drink a beer. When all of the beer is gone? It’s time to go out.
For these stay-behinds, the summer is a series of bars and happy hours, dinners and brunches. They, along with the influx of summer interns, speckle the D.C. streets at night in rompers and button-downs, searching for the yo-pro-in-training scene.
It’s the balance between the party scene and hermit life that makes a D.C. summer beautiful. Finding time to slip out of Foggy Bottom whether you’re alone or in pursuit of a new rooftop bar, without your usual friends or your usual textbooks, gives the city an entirely different feel.
Summer allows for so much. It promises time to be lazy, to be a recluse, to shout Destiny Child lyrics from the rooftop of the Brixton. Without the normal forces of GW life – the schedules, term papers, scrambles to find your Clickr before class – there’s more room for time that may leave the city quieter but no less alive.
For all who missed the summer in D.C., try it the next time around.
And welcome back – sort of.