Summertime Stress: From the Diary of an Arab Millennial
I remember when summer meant a Jersey Shore tan, endless beach days, games with relatives that end up with fights and long warm summer nights. We didn’t have a care in the world, we had no final exams, no internships, no budget to balance, no jobs to apply for. We had fun, real harmless innocent fun that had no repercussions on our future. I don’t think I’ll ever find activities like that again, that I enjoy deeply and that won’t destroy me.
I remember once we rented a house by the beach with many uncles, aunts and cousins. We’d spend the days swimming, sand fighting, water fighting, regular fighting… Come to think of it, most of our games included fighting. After the beach, we’d all line butt naked in the backyard and one of the grownups would shower us with the garden hose. We’d pass the shampoo and soap amongst us, I remember many times where I closed my eyes for too long and missed my turn for the shampoo. I think I got lice after that. Then there was a meal and like any Arab family, we have a prison mentality when it comes to food: we’re always worried it won’t be enough. I saw with my own eyes my sweet old grandmother hit children on their head if they touched her bread. I also saw many fights break out between my uncles over watermelon. I didn’t eat much when I was a kid, I used to throw my portions out the window in the toilet. When it got dark, the adults would go out and we’d stay under the supervision of the teens, that was so much fun. I once broke my older cousin’s tooth for candy.
When did I start focusing on paydays more than beach days?
I’m 21, I shouldn’t have to be nostalgic... but, yet here I am, nostalgic for a summer with a Jersey Shore tan
Now I don’t want you to think all joy has suddenly been sucked out of my life right after my tits grew, I do have wild pool parties, chill nights by the beach or even just simple hangouts with my friends and they’re all lovely times. But back then, once the final alarm rang on the final day of school, all worries were out the window. Today, class ended. I still have to go to work in exactly fifteen minutes, I might be able to pick up some lunch on the way and have it in my office. I have a day off in two weeks, I might go to the beach. But I probably won’t, I’ll spend it in the police precinct because I have to renew my ID and that will take all damn day. Even when my contract will be over, in a month, I’ll have to boost my freelance projects and look for something else. I gotta keep the cash coming.
I’m twenty one, I shouldn’t have to be nostalgic. These memories I write with tears in my eyes as if I’m a WWII veteran recalling his deceased lover, aren’t even ten years old. What happened and when did it happen? When did we decide we’re gonna start giving fucks? When did I set such foolish goals for myself and started attaining them? When did I start focusing on paydays more than beach days? Why does less than ten years ago seem like the 50’s? What is this?